There are lots of stereotypes and misconceptions about how cancer patients look like, act and feel like. This article aims to dispel these myths.
Everyone’s experience with cancer may be different. For someone who has just been diagnosed, it can be scary to not know what to expect. Will it be like what you see in the movies, or will it be completely different? It isn’t until we start treatment and the process of beating cancer that we really understand all the misconceptions that exist.
For those who haven’t been affected by the disease, it can be hard to know what to say and how to say it. And for those who are dealing with a diagnosis, it can be incredibly frustrating to be stereotyped into certain categories that are not reflective of what you are going through. I set out to dispel these myths.
1. Cancer doesn’t always end when treatment does
The “new normal” is always a hard and scary place to be for many. Not only are they still dealing with lingering physical side effects of a cancer diagnosis, fear of recurrence, survivor’s guilt, the list goes on. It’s hard for them to explain to their loved ones that just because treatment is over doesn’t mean they are “over it” if they tell you that they are not okay, please take it just as serious as you did when they still had cancer.
2. Cancer doesn’t look the same on everyone
There is no one “image” of someone with cancer that they all need to adhere to in order to be acknowledged as a patient. Some lose weight from chemo, others gain weight from steroids. Some lose their hair and others do not. They are all different and their experiences are always not the same. All experiences with cancer may be different.
3. Some days are just hard
Some days are better than others, but when it comes down to it, some days are just hard. There is no inspirational quote or uplifting book that is going to change that. They appreciate it when you try, but sometimes all they just need is a supportive hand to hold, and an understanding that sometimes it’s just going to be hard, but that it won’t stay that way forever.
4. Just because they don’t look sick doesn’t mean they are not
For some cancer patients, thinning hair and weight loss is the norm. But for others, there are no outwardly signs of suffering, which can make it very difficult when people say things like: “but you don’t look sick… .. “those who don’t look sick” are often in a lot of pain on the side and it can be hard when others don’t see that.
5. They are so much more than their disease
When they get grouped and labeled as a “cancer patient” sometimes it seems like all of their other identifying factors no longer matter. It doesn’t matter that they are professionals, parents, significant others, friends, activitists. All that people seem to see or acknowledge is the cancer. please remember that, they are still themselves, they just happen to have cancer now.