I'm taking a brief pause before starting out again on my News.
A fellow member of my metastatic breast cancer list sent a link to this article by Dana Jennings in the New York Times.
With Cancer, Let's Face It: Words Are Inadequate
I don't feel in complete concert with Mr. Jennings, but then, he really can (compared to we Stage IV folks) be considered at least a potential Survivor - in other words, it is possible that he will live for years and years, and that it won't be the prostate cancer that finally pushes him off his perch. Whereas for me, in the unlikely event that I don't die rather soonish of the cancer itself, I will very likely die soonish of either the treatment or the stress that stems from the treatment. So the term 'survivor' that all the cancer orgs & professionals are so insistent on using for anyone currently breathing tends to fill my mouth with a bitter resentment that Dana evidently doesn't quite taste.
And I feel a bit more victimized than he seems to acknowledge, too - the ravaging monsters might be part of me, but they certainly are not my friends, and they are not listening to me when I Just Say No.
That said, he makes a good start on a discussion that needs to be had. Words are inadequate, but they are powerful. Even - perhaps especially - the ones we blurt out when we don't know what to say. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, and risk making a mistake. It just means that you should pay attention if the reaction isn't as you expected, and perhaps ask more questions. Or, as Mr. Jennings suggests, just listen. Don't worry about feeling awkward - we feel awkward, too, but that, at least, won't kill any of us.