Sunday, 5 October 2014

57. What ABSOLUTELY not to say to a cancer patient

"Nice to see you again! My friend had cancer and she died. The funeral was last week."

I haven't made this up. One of the worshippers grabbed me after church this morning. It's weeks since I've made it to church, so people were clustering around me, wanting to know how things are going. Insensitive Worshipper marched up with her alarming Welcome Back message. 

Coming hot on the heels of my blogpost about What (not) to say to a cancer patient, where I argued that it doesn't matter what you say as long as you say it with an open heart, perhaps I should make an exception for reports of friends who died of cancer. It should top the list of what you should NEVER say.

It didn't end there. Insensitive Worshipper is, I fear, exactly that: insensitive. Her focus is always entirely on herself, not on me (or on anybody else). In fact, her words were so outrageously insensitive that when Best Friend came to see me this afternoon, and I told her about it, we howled with laughter.

"People die of cancer!" Insensitive Worshipper warned, finger wagging whilst starting to list other friends who have suffered a similar unfortunate fate.

"Yes..." I said, trying and failing to think of a way to end this conversation.

The people in my cluster exchanged looks. I faced them, turning my back to Insensitive Worshipper with a "Thank you, it is nice to see you too," which, I hoped, was a clear "Goodbye, The End" message.

No such luck. She ploughed on.

"Did you know," she said to my back, volume rising, "that you can also get it in your womb?"

Well, how do you answer that one? Flabbergasted, and on the verge of bursting into hysterical giggles, I turned to her again.

"I know," I said. "I'm a nurse. I've seen everything."

After which, thankfully, I managed to ignore her so completely that she gave up. 

Otherwise, the only thing to do would have been to beat her at her own game.

"Cancer patients! Yes, they die terrible deaths!" I'd say. "You can get it in you mouth/brain/penis!" And I'd describe it in horrid detail, exaggerating as much as I could.

Best avoid Insensitive Worshipper in the future. Either that, or bring a tape recorder to church, so I can entertain you all with further blow-by-blow accounts.

No comments:

Post a Comment