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"I Could Get Hit By A Bus" Comments

amontro
amontro Member Posts: 184

It still amazes me how people are insensitive when you tell them that your cancer is terminal and cannot be cured.

After all these years, I still have acquaintances say to me "We all never know when we will die." "I could get hit by a bus tomorrow".

Usually the person goes on their merry way, and I am still left with no probable future ,and medical appointments up the wazoo..

Am I the one who's insensitive? You'd think that I'd cut people a little slack after all these years.

How do you handle it?

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Comments

  • ninetwelve
    ninetwelve Member Posts: 328

    I have gotten this many times. I ask myself, "Is there anything an acquaintance could say to me that would make me feel any better?" And the answer is no. It's just an acquaintance. They're probably doing their best, and who knows, maybe they have a health problem, too, or relatives who are suffering. Everyone nowadays has extra worries. I send them a silent "bless your heart" and move on.

    However, I DO wish my friends and family had an actual clue about my medical stuff. They really can't keep it straight in their heads. "Are you still doing chemo?" they repeatedly say, even though I've already explained that chemo stops when it stops working, or I can't handle it anymore.

  • chicagoan
    chicagoan Member Posts: 937

    That is a very insensitive comment but also true. I've outlived people who put me in the grave (telling me I only had six months-like they knew) when I shared my diagnosis. None of us do know when we are going to die but those of us with a terminal diagnosis have to come face to face with our mortality.

    I find even my most well meaning friends and family members cannot keep track of my treatment even though it has been the same for 5 years. But, to be fair, I find it hard to track other people's medical treatments. We become experts on our treatments out of necessity. Many friends and family members somehow think I am no longer on cancer treatment. I gently correct them when this comes up.

  • candy-678
    candy-678 Member Posts: 4,073

    I had an acquaintance tell me once "None of us are getting out of this alive". True, I guess. We are all going to face death someday. But, with MBC, it is in our face, front and center, every day. Most people go about living their lives. Yes, they can get hit by a bus or get an illness, but they do not THINK about it. I never thought about my mortality before the cancer. That person said that to me a couple of years ago and it still bothers me that he said it.

    Close friends/family--- Yeah, my family does not know my treatments and appointments. I go to my appointments on my own and keep track of my scans on my own. They are too busy with their own lives to make it a point to know my specifics.

    What really bothers me is a close friend that always seems to make us equal. I will say that the fatigue is awful. He will say "I am tired too". Or I will mention the nausea/lack of appetite and he will poo poo my comments saying he wished he could have less of an appetite so he could lose weight. He will say "We have it rough". Yes, he has chronic back issues that causes him pain, but we are definitely not equal !!!! He works full time, does what he wants when he wants, goes to bed at midnight after a long busy day, and is pretty healthy overall. I would NEVER wish cancer on anyone, but if he ever got sick with cancer (or anything serious) he could truly understand how good he has it now and he needs to shut up and be thankful for his life now.

    Also, if cancer is no biggie and everyone has their own issues that are also bad, then why is cancer so feared by people??? Why worry about getting a cancer diagnosis someday if it is the same as anything else? We are all dying anyway. No biggie, right !!??

    Edited to say--- In my experience, my family and close friends act like I am making my situation sound worse than it is. I do not want sympathy, but I want validation that the MBC is serious and will be terminal at some point. And not that everyone has their own issues and I am nothing special so suck it up.

  • aprilgirl1
    aprilgirl1 Member Posts: 743

    Amontro, this is one of the aspects of stage IV or really any stage cancer that happens and just feels like a sucker punch. I can be a bit salty at times and if this happened to me I might say "yes - and the bus already hit me, so please watch out....." When I was stage 1 in 2008 and did all the treatment to have a 7% chance of a recurrence (ha - jokes on ME), I was astounded by the bizarre things acquaintances and well meaning friends said to me...."oh, you drink coffee? That's why you have cancer"..."I heard you have breast cancer, my mom died from that"...and the best one was "did you know that women who have abortions have a higher rate of breast cancer? ."""WTF...I complained to HR when a co-worked told me that one and I have never had an abortion, by the way....not that it is anyone's business.... It is so infuriating that we have to deal with so many weird social things while we are fighting to live.

    When I was dx in 2019 with stage IV I decided to not share my dx or quit my job until I started treatment and could see how I felt, and how the treatment worked. I am stable and feel pretty good. When that changes I will "retire" and then possibly I will share my dx with more people. I have been "sassed or shamed" on here for NOT sharing my dx -like I am part of the reason people don't get that stage IV is out here. I can't take that on right now. it's a personal choice. This works best for me right now to live as "normally" as possible. It's a blessing some days to fly under that radar. But, even those really close who I have told, don't really get it....and I guess ignorance is bliss ? Ugh.

  • chicagoan
    chicagoan Member Posts: 937

    I've always shared my diagnosis but now am having second thoughts. Mainly I do it because people wonder why I am not working. Last week I had lunch with an acquaintance I hadn't seen in 10 years. I didn't really want to get together but she seemed very lonely and isolated so I agreed to be nice. We caught up. I mentioned the cancer. Immediately this woman starts quizzing me on my deodorant, diet, etc. It was so annoying. I have been living with this for 5 plus years-she knows almost nothing about cancer so I did not appreciate her helpful "advice." Yeah-maybe with my hormonal cancer, if I had used a different deodorant I'd be fine. I think I am going to stop telling acquaintances and just say I early retired.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,638

    … but, but, I can actually see the bus and it can speed up at any minute without prior notice!

    I have an odd but not awful issue with folks not believing I have mbc. After 10 1/2 years of no progression and appearing completely normal, several people now feel free to give their “medical” opinions on my situation. Some are certain that my doctors have made a mistake and don’t think the results of my bone biopsy were accurate. What?? I have always been completely open about my mbc so there are now some who think that perhaps I am looking for attention or sympathy and that perhaps I have fabricated this whole thing. That’s the point where I show my port. Not enough evidence? Let me show you my reconstructed breasts. Still don’t believe me? I can drop my pants and show you the rads tattoos sprinkled across my upper thighs that knocked out my bone met. This really hurts me as I am not an attention seeker nor a liar.

    If I am open it’s because I choose to be. Beyond that, I can’t control the course of my mbc or what I look like.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,638

    Chicagoan,

    Just read your post. When anyone tells me that it was something I did to develop bc, i.e. diet, deodorant, metal fillings, etc., I shut them down quickly. I am very clear that unless they are my oncologist and familiar with my circumstances, I will not entertain their “medical” theories and advice, full stop! My inclination is to be open and to educate but as a recently retired teacher, i know learning is something that people need to be open to. My efforts are not always successful 😕.

  • sadiesservant
    sadiesservant Member Posts: 1,875

    With regards to the bus comment, I read a response on here a number of years ago (can’t remember who posted it, perhaps Lita) that had me in stitches and provided an excellent comeback. “Yes, anyone can be hit by a bus tomorrow but with MBC it’s like the bus is going up and down my driveway!” It’s a priceless comment as I get this image of dodging that bus every time I step out of my front door. 😁

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    re the bus comment:

    a) do you spend all your night worrying about a bus hitting you, knowing it's coming in the next months, just not sure when? Do you spend hours every day strategizing how to avoid being hit by the bus (that's my treatment plans & medical appointments)? Do you live with unending anxiety and tears about how you KNOW your life will be cut short, not just hypothetically but for real? No? Then stop talking

    b) can you buy life insurance? Cause I can't. Your bus is mythical bullslhit because an actuary will look you up in tables and you will get life insurance. The odds of you being hit by a bus are so low that actuaries have calculated it. The odds of me dying very soon are rapidly approaching 100% & I can't get life insurance. So stop talking because no, we are not the same


    My tolerance for nonsense is rapidly approaching 0 as we can see here lol



  • sadiesservant
    sadiesservant Member Posts: 1,875

    😊 Moth, I am so with you. My idiot quotient has been depleted and my filter is well and truly broken! LOL

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,638

    I have been lucky to have avoided a lot of idiotic comments and advice (Save for those declaring that my docs are wrong and I don’t have mbc). I think my willingness to begin exposing body parts effected by mbc stops those who try to say something stupid in their tracks.

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,545

    With all these heavy drugs we take on there is also the potential for the bus to off road it into our living room/bedroom and take us out when we least expect it due to something tiny but major as a result of treatment. Or of cancer that shifts into high gear for whatever reason.

    There is an old Stephen King short story about sentient trucks killing people in a diner which comes to mind.

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,470

    I commented on this very topic on my last blog post. I talked about wanting to "dance with NED" but that he's off dancing with someone else while his evil stepbrother pushes his way into the party. Regarding the "Well, any of us could get hit by the bus, so what's the difference?" I wrote, "True, but that person doesn't have NED's evil stepbrother breathing down the back of their neck, waiting to push them in front of the oncoming bus! That's the difference!"

    I really don't think most people mean to be insensitive, but they just don't get it. My next post is going to be more of "What Not to Say".

    I like the living room/bedroom or driveway analogies. Those are good ones!

    Carol

    Edited to add: Amontro, you are NOT insensitive!


  • meg8000
    meg8000 Member Posts: 37

    I think that we've already been hit by the bus; it just hasn't killed us... yet! It's left us injured and disfigured, and broken some of our body parts such that they cannot be fixed and are in need of constant treatment, until it eventually kills us.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 5,892

    Such great replies here.

    Candy, you make a great point: “If cancer is no biggie and everyone has their own issues that are also bad, then why is cancer so feared by people??? Why worry about getting a cancer diagnosis someday if it is the same as anything else? We are all dying anyway. No biggie, right !!??“

    Like meg says, the bus already hit us and mangled us up.

    Awhile back I looked up the statistics of how many people in the U.S. are killed by buses and it was something like 40 people a year. Statistics show about 40,000 die of bc a year. That’s a 1000% increase in the possibility of dying from this disease than being run over by a bus.

    To be flippant and tell someone they could be hit by a bus trivializes the trauma experienced by getting an mbc diagnosis and the process of never ending treatment. I wonder if those with other types of cancer get these same kind of responses or if it is something said to us because we’re women. I couldn’t imagine minimalizing someone else’s struggle with terminal illness in that way.

  • candy-678
    candy-678 Member Posts: 4,073

    Divinemrsm- Yes!!! That is the word I was looking for "trivialize". I sometimes cannot express myself as I would like. I cannot find the right words at times. My friend trivializes how I am feeling. He compares his health issues with mine and makes it sound equal. We are not equal. He does not truly understand what it is like to live with cancer, to be considered "terminal". I just want to shake him and tell him how good he really has it and to be thankful.

    And isn't it funny (not the haha kind) that when someone gets a Breast Cancer diagnosis we have fundraisers for them, wave the Pink Ribbon, post it on Social Media, etc. But when we are diagnosed with MBC it is "Everyone will die sometime" or "We all could get hit by a bus anytime".

    As Divine said, do others with a terminal illness--- heart issue, end stage kidney disease, etc-- get told these things?

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    I'm in a metastatic support group which isn't limited to breast ca. Other people have also got the we're all dying/ bus comments so I don't think it's breast cancer specific; it's the terminal aspect that triggers it somehow

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,470

    These are all such great perspectives. "Trivalize" is a great word. Divine, I had no idea about the actual stats of the chances of being hit by a bus vs dying of breast cancer. We met with a financial planner a while back. We were talking about what to do if DH gets hit by "the beer truck." DH doesn't drink so that would be an ironic way for him to die - especially considering that he surfs and rock climbs!

    Carol

  • amontro
    amontro Member Posts: 184


    All of you are spot on! I am summarizing the salient points. Pardon me for not including your names, so I'm paraphrasing:

    Some people compare their feelings with ours. When we say we're tired or have pain, so do they,

    Still doing chemo? When will you stop? Or after an absence, they think that we are cured if we're still around.

    You didn't do this or that to prevent it. Or, you should do this or that to cure it.

    The buses have a bad rep here. Do others think about a bus hitting them everyday? The bus already hit us and our bus goes over the speed limit. It shifted into high gear when we weren't looking. The bus drives up and down our driveways and even into our homes and we can't dodge it. About forty people are killed by a bus every year, How many by MBC?

    Other good ones: Dancing with NED's step brother. Wanna see my scars, tattoos, implants (aren't these considered sexy nowadays)?

    It also bothered me when someone pointed out that after an initial diagnoses, others get fund raisers, walks, and pink ribbons. Let me add to that: in the chemo room during the last of someone else's treatments, watching a celebration with balloons, a cake and flowers. We just get the bonus of coming back again.

    Thanks for allowing me to use your words. Keep up the good comments!

  • goldensrbest
    goldensrbest Member Posts: 628

    amontro- 👍🏻 to your comment that we have the bonus of coming back when others celebrate the conclusion of treatment!.

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,545

    I think a lot of it comes back to the whole "its terminal!" (to us) and the medical profession/charitable organisations trying desperately to paint it as "no - its (almost) a chronic condition!!!" That message isn't believed by most MBCers in the first place, why would the general public? And its only for this cancer and a handful of others where they can really get a handle on it/its slow growing/the treatment is essentially a full system reset and with a bit of luck the patient is ok for some time. Rest of the time most terminal cancer is 4-6 months, a year at the outset, and its hard core hospital all the way into the end. THAT is what people know and have probably experienced and so just have no real frame of reference for dealing with an MBCer who may be on anti-estrogen or other cocktail and trundling around with hair month after month.

    Frankly I would rather be taken out by a bus with no pain.


  • olma61
    olma61 Member Posts: 1,016

    I agree that people minimize the suffering that comes with this disease when they make these kinds of comments. And people trying to figure out what you “did wrong” are probably trying to reassure themselves that it wont happen to them, that they can control their circumstances. I don’t share very freely about my diagnosis, I dont want to hear that kind of small talk. My family does sometimes hit me with “but you’re doing so well, youre beating it” but I can forgive them because I know for them it is wishful thinking, they want me to be okay for a long time.

    I actually did know someone who got hit by that proverbial bus on the streets of New York in her early forties, in front of her teenage daughter. I don’t think she would have chosen to die that way, at that time of her life. I don’t know how much she suffered or if her death was instantaneous, but it sure was unpleasant for her daughter (and her other kids who did not witness it) either way.

  • edge_of_no_return
    edge_of_no_return Member Posts: 41

    Anna, you're the best. i hope these fantastic responses are helping you see that you are *not* insensitive. this is kind of like our "AITA" forum LOL! sadiesservant - the bus going up and down the driveway! i'm reading this at work and just laffed like a donkey. that's hilarious / tragi-comic. when i got my mbc dx in 2021, i chose to share with just a couple of ppl based on how ick the experience was when sharing my initial dx in 2016 with "friends". this means that now not even my family knows and, well, that's just that much more BS i don't have to deal with. it's hard enough formulating my own feelings from one day to another, being new to this group; i imagine if i ever experience what you have, i may be put in padded cell timeout for punching the dismissers (new word i just made up) in the throat. i ran across another thread in this community a while back "the dumbest thing people have said to you / about you" which is fairly cringeworthy as well. ffs, lol. thank you Anna!

  • dancemom
    dancemom Member Posts: 404

    hi. Amontro, you said something about "finishing" chemo that really just hit me. I've been on active treatment since de novo diagnosis for a solid year now. I finished radiation treatment yesterday and they said "go ring the bell!" I said I don't feel like it, so they didn't push it. Then everybody kept saying "congratulations". And it made me angry/sad. I didn't do anything. I took my treatment. And I'm not done with anything. I get to go back on ibrance now, yay? I guess it's normal to try and keep things positive and bright when someone has successfully completed a course of treatment, especially for most cases when its likely that its all good at least for a long while. But this isn't over, so the celebration doesn't feel right.


  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    my one concession to 'celebrating' the end of anything is a cake or pastry or just a big bunch of french fries. Actually that's now not even for the end of things, that's now just for "ugh, I had to go meet the oncologist again & sit around in waiting room........ FRIES!!!!" Rewards for everything cuz man this stuff is hard....


  • dancemom
    dancemom Member Posts: 404

    haha moth, I think I "rewarded" myself too much during rads! There's a drug store across the street from the cancer center that I go get a drink if I forget to bring my water bottle. They always seem to have delicious crappy junk food on sale calling my name.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,638

    olma,

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned wishful thinking by family members. My daughters, both in their 30’s, deal with my mbc very differently. Older dd is the wishful thinker. Younger dd is very compassionate but very realistic. She also as a weird interest in medical procedures. I try to deal with them equally, in terms of my health but older dd thinks no news is good news. Younger dd wants to know the nitty gritty of my medical life with no details omitted. She would have happily been present during my bmx if such a thing were allowed.

  • sf-cakes
    sf-cakes Member Posts: 503

    Medical appointments up the wazoo, yes to that! I used to tell a few people when my next scans, appointments, labs, etc were, but after a short while, they basically said, "aren't you done with all that yet?" and "there's a lot of radiation in a CT scan, you know" (oh my, let's talk about SBRT for a minute). I don't say anything anymore. Except for here and in my virtual support group.

    I know it comes from a wishful place, and yet it's kind of painful to have a friend insist, "you're going to live to be an old lady". I'm 52, so yeah, no. It's hard to believe the idea that "none of us knows when or how we'll die" when I'm laying on the scan table every three months, or when I feel exhausted after watering the yard (that hose has gotten heavy!) or every month when I'm hoping I have just enough white blood cells to start the next cycle of meds...

    The driver of that bus is death, and he knows exactly where I live. I'm on his route, there's a damn stop in front of my house. I have an open ended ticket to ride, and I'm just hoping there's pizza and margaritas when I finally get on board.

  • amontro
    amontro Member Posts: 184

    I began this thread because recently an acquaintance of mine (on Zoom) told me the "bus" reference. She is very inquisitive and loves to ask medical questions and offer remedies. She just doesn't get it.

    Last year, when I told her I finally found a Stage 4 mbc zoom meeting, she said "I'm jealous".

    The other day she was pumping me for information again about what goes on at these mbc zoom meetings. She is frustrated because I only tell her about my situation, and that it is a very serious, private, personal group.

    There are others in the zoom besides her, so I maintain my cool because I realize she is an idiot.

    Yes, yes! Rewards for chemo! Just the other day after my infusion, I stopped at a local market and went in just to get ice cream. These days, my chemo is every three weeks, so bingeing is on my calendar these days.

    Doesn't it feel good to rant? Then we go back to our routine crises, which is every day for us.

    - Anna

  • sunshine99
    sunshine99 Member Posts: 2,470

    Sf-cakes, what a perfect comment: The driver of that bus is death, and he knows exactly where I live. I'm on his route, there's a damn stop in front of my house. I have an open ended ticket to ride, and I'm just hoping there's pizza and margaritas when I finally get on board. You nailed it!

    Amontro, there will always be people who will never "get it," right? And your friend who is jealous? What the what??? I just don't get some people!

    Love you, ladies! And doesn't it feel good to know that we DO understand each other?

    Carol