I’d rather people ask than didn’t ask. It can be quite annoying when you get asked the same question over and over, but you just get used to it in the end. My feelings go from ‘Oh this is someone asking me a question and this is good’ to ‘This is quite annoying that I’m still getting asked the same questions’, but after a while this tails off into the everyday.
Whether I find something annoying or ok is really about the mood I’m in when they ask it. People often crack jokes about my walking stick. I remember going into a shop and someone asking ‘Where’s the sheep?’ like I’m a shepherd because I’ve got a walking stick. And I found that really offensive – I don’t know why, as it was quite funny looking back at it. And another time, I went to a restaurant and the guy said ‘I’m sorry, we don’t let weapons in here’ and I thought that was really funny at the time. One of the best ones I’d heard. But there wasn’t much of a difference between the two times, just what mood I was in when they asked it. – Chris
Cancer has gone from the taboo that we don’t talk about it, to being something that we can all talk about, all the time. Patients often come under pressure – if they are in any social world at all – to tell every questioner about the chemotherapy, the procedures, etc etc etc… It can be so intrusive. It’s often hard for patients to feel that sometimes it’s ok to say ‘No’. Just because someone asks something doesn’t mean that they have a right to an answer. It’s really a reversal of the normal etiquette, not to answer a direct question and we often have to find a form of words that works for each person to fend off these questions without feeling rude. I ask patients, ‘Look, if you had food poisoning, or an upset stomach, would you think everyone should know the quality of your vomiting, of your diarrhoea?’ Of course not, but because this thing is called cancer it suddenly becomes everyone’s business. – Sue