Stoic? Why? Venting
Sister Member Posts: 4,960 ✭
edited December 2020 in Now what? The highs and lows of survivorship
I'll say straight up that this is a vent. I don't think it would go down well in other places and might not here, either. I'm sick of hearing how strong and stoic those with cancer are, or are expected to be. If someone has cancer and is suffering pain, etc from it or from treatment, and not complaining, they are held up as some shining example of how to be. To the point that it feels like talking about the cancer or the side effects is somehow bad form and you are letting the side down. Bullshit! I'm sick of it. I don't know if it's because people are scared of the disease or find it distasteful or boring to hear about but I'm not playing that game anymore. And I don't care if such and such was so brave and never said a word about their suffering. Maybe the reality needs to be seen and understood. No, I can't do that because it hurts too much due to treatment. No, I can't manage that because I get too bloody tired due to treatment. Etc. And I'm sorry that I can't do what is expected of every other parent or worker but stop trying to make me feel guilty or difficult. I'm not whingeing and I'm weary of feeling that I am just because I'm being honest. I'm not expecting anyone to be able to sort it (except hopefully, the researchers). But I do need people to recognise that just because I'm back in the real world it does not mean that the fairy godmother has waved her wand and made it all disappear. And I do know I'm not the only one.
So, maybe let's stop holding the stoic up as some sort of shining light.
Okay - vent over.
So, maybe let's stop holding the stoic up as some sort of shining light.
Okay - vent over.
@Sister I think that being stoic generally in life is what might’ve got me here. These days, I say things like: Sorry baby but you can’t have a play date this Friday cos I have surgery (in front of the friend’s grandma that I don’t know); No I can’t do that (whatever I was asked to do then surprised annoyance when I refused) because I told you my fingers are weak from the meds!!; I know our kids want a play date and I would love to provide that, but I’m really tired these days from all the treatment and meds from bc I had earlier on this year; I can’t come to the pool because I’m knackered. Just go without me this time or stay home; There’s no way I’m making dinner tonight. If you’re hungry make yourself a sandwich; Sorry, what was your name again? I can’t remember cos I have a lot of brain fog; (to GP) Yes, I need my medical certificate extended cos I’m tired all the time and my fingers are numb, so I don’t really feel like being a slave to some company that doesn’t appreciate me yet; I’m not complaining, I’m stating a fact!!!And the list goes on. Stoic no more. If someone accuses me of whingeing these days, they get the famous ‘Mon Glare’ that they know they’re better off without.I do my best but I have my limits, and if people aren’t happy with that they can ... .
Vent away my dear, and let’s be more vocal so we can stop being walked all over just to avoid hearing “Geez you complain a lot” 🙄.Hugs Xx6
We're all different!
A general comment when people meet up is how are you! It's a greeting that they don't necessarily expect a response.
I'm stoic and it is who I am.
Vent away at how you feel but don't put down stoicism4
I’m all in favour of a good vent, saves time and sanity. But the cruel, cruel truth is that some of us aren’t being stoic, we aren’t in pain. It isn’t just our personal difference, or even preference, although @iserbrown is quite right, we all deal with things differently. It’s that the disease and the side effects of treatment are different too. Just as no-one should be expected to be ‘over it’ when they are wretched and dealing with debilitating side effects, those of us who drew a much luckier outcome aren’t trying to model behaviour, we’re all too conscious that it’s a lottery! And no amount of sympathy makes the side effects any easier to live with.3
I think that sometimes we need to be more "out there" with our limitations so that those around us know that this is a big deal for us. For those who have a less bumpy road on the way to Shittsville...Cancer capitol of the world", this following sub rant does not apply. I've read many posts of people being annoyed at the "pity stares" of others when they were in their bald state, and obviously having chemo. I didn't. I was left with severe neuropathy and with severe osteoporosis, was scared shitless of a fall. So there would be me, bald at a coot and shuffling along with my wheeled granny walker. In a long line at the bank, an employee came up to me, took me to a private cubicle and logged on to the computer and assisted me. No complaints from the other lemmings in line. I was assisted across a pedestrian crossing by a delightful old Asian man who spoke not a word of English and was probably at least twenty years older than me. With smiles, gesticulations and pats on my back, he escorted me across the road. I was thankful and grateful for the consideration and didn't see it as being weak in spirit. Weak in my body, certainly, but not my spirit. My brain'f fucked too...but that is another matter. I continued in this way, through all the process of active treatment, and make it quite clear that there are some things that I simply can't do. Even my grandchildren, 5 and almost 2, know that granny can't pick them up. I can sit down where they can climb into my lap, but no pick ups. The older one has now relinquished his mobile throne, known as Granny's Pram (my walker) and now the little one rides on it in all her elevated splendor. They see my limitations as something special and I don't hide my difficulties from them or anybody else.10
Vent away, @Sister - we hear you, we feel for you, cos many (if not most) are feeling the same.
When people ask me how I am going .... are you OK? I say "I'm good but my body is stuffed from the cancer meds." If they want to ask about that comment - I will enlarge upon it.
I used to walk everywhere 'fast' .... now it is a stumble. I find that I am no longer able to 'stand tall' - I am slightly hunched over, leaning forward, which is really annoying as it also makes you less stable. Getting in & out of the car is an interesting activity ..... thank God no-one (that i know of) have their videos going!
At least, since I've been on 'the good oil' my hands and feet are not as sore/stiff as they used to be from the AIs.4
Yep. Yep, yep, yep.
I can't, and won't, do anything more challenging than lie in the bath after I get home from work. I refuse to apologise. I've given up saying sorry unless I genuinely am; someone's disappointed with me? 95% of the time I just don't care. I do my job to the best of my ability and that's all I can do. My social life is in the crapper, but it's work or play. I can no longer do both.
Stoic is a not a word I'd apply to myself. Oddly, I've been described as such by those who don't realise my acceptance of procedures or circumstances has nothing to do with stoicism. I'm either too exhausted to fight any more, or I'm certain that if I move so much as a muscle or open my mouth I will absolutely lose the fucking plot and get dragged away in the van.10
Yes. Its fine to have boundaries and to acknowledge limitations. If people dont want to know how you are they shouldnt ask in my view. I dont really know how to answer some days. Is good when i dont feel like death, when my hand or feet arent painful, when my blood pressure is normal, when my hair has grown back? Cant really expect the boob to grow back. Or is good my mental state of mind?
Some people are uncomfortable and only want to hear positivity. I said i wished for hair for xmas recently on fb group of friends and one friend replied that there is always someone worse off. She then posted a link to soneone who had the lower half of their body amputated. My first thought was about sensitivity and response to what was really a gee it would be nice to have hair comment. My second thought was that is a very extreme example and is that what beats my situation. She wrote something like. We know you are suffering most out of our group. What i perceived is that i was thought to be whinging. You have to be able to communicate things and you should be allowed to whinge. I said the same. I dont need my problems solved listening is all that is required
I tell my kids, dont bother asking for friends over on chemo day, I cant go to big shopping centres on weekends so think ahead what you need, ask your dad to ferry you around if im appearing unwell.7
You are very kind to your friend. You are the one who is worse off than she is! Listening is a real skill however - should be up there with reading and writing.4
Bless you for writing and expressing exactly how I feel... I have worried that I am not being strong enough, I am trying so hard but I feel like I am failing those around me if I don't show strength . I thought it was just me... reading your post has given me the strength and understanding to realise it is in part, the emotions of the journey. A journey i am trying to use all the retric in the world on.. trying to learn from and find positives on the hard days... but sometimes i just want to go "blah blah blah" this sux, lol..
May you have a better day tomorrow. 😊6
Its ok to vent! I think there are a few things going on here.
Firstly, unless you have had breast cancer, you can’t ever REALLY understand what a person with BC is going through.
Secondly, when can you say you “ had” BC.Is it when you have had your surgery , chemo and radiotherapy?What if you are hormone positive and are taking the tablets for 5 years , maybe more?Thirdly, because non BC people don’t know exactly what we are going through, sometimes they don’t know what to say or do and their comments may come across as clumsy , inappropriate , thoughtless or in extreme cases, cruel.I had a single mastectomy and a person I thought was a friend said “ why didn’t you get the other one off “.I actually said “ because I’m an optimist”. After that I went home and did a bit more crying.
Fourthly, following on from that point, most people have no idea what is involved with surgery and treatment , I know I didn’t.I was completely shocked with the level of pain I felt following the mastectomy and how the painkillers mucked with my head ( not to mention the general cognitive impairment from the shock and emotional turmoil of diagnosis).So when they expect you to have “ bounced back” after surgery or other treatment, it’s hard not to want to punch them.Fifthly, I think it’s ok to say “ I’m not well and I can’t do that “ , I have learnt to say “ no” to a whole lot of things and felt absolutely zero guilt about it.IP
I also think a lot of people are very private and don’t want to draw attention to their BC , so this helps perpetuate the view amongst some that people who talk about their problems with BC are malingerers/ whingers.Everyone is different but that doesn’t make it any easier when people expect you to “be positive “ when you are grieving about your earlier cancer free self.
I actually liken a diagnosis of BC to grieving the loss of a loved one , and no one ever asks you to be “ positive” about that.
it is great that this network exists for venting, supporting, informing , chatting and just “ being”.10
@Sister I was never sure why some people wanted to tell me of some "superwoman" who never complained, and as they looked me squarely in the face and could see I looked like death warmed up at times when I was having my chemo treatment.
I don't have emotional support, and now cannot be bothered much with many people these days.
Above all, it is our loved ones that matter and what they think, the rest can just have their opinions of us and we can try not to take on board their crap of whether we are considered stoic, strong, a warrior, brave or whatever adjective they want to attach to people. I hardly complained to be honest, because I would get a comeback with the person complaining about having a broken fingernail and needed another manicure soon. I can't relate to that, but I smile and keep quiet.
It is all very exhausting.7
Sister Member Posts: 4,960 ✭I do try not to have to explain more than once. I do try to do as much as I can (eg. happy to help with that extra event in the morning but don't put me on afternoons, etc). I know that people don't really want to know and that's fine. I just want to not be judged as somehow less worthy.
Thank you for listening to my rant and for the support.4
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