So…what CAN I say?


The best responses to the news of my diagnosis have all been from the heart, unedited, unfiltered, just exactly what the person thought upon hearing. And seeing as how I’ve told you all what not to say, the least I can do is give you suggestions for what’s okay, right?

These are the ones that come to mind, the immediate responses, the ones from the heart.

1.  That sucks.
2. That really sucks.
3. That fucking sucks.
4. I’m so sorry.
5. I’m really sorry.
6. I can’t believe it/it can’t be true (said with sincere shock and disbelief)
7. Unintelligible babbling accompanied by tears.

The thread that binds them is that they are all authentic responses. None of them involve thinking of what might be the “correct” thing to say, or the candy coating of a meaningless platitude. All of those responses allow me to agree wholeheartedly, because yes, it does suck. Yes, I’m sorry too. No, I can’t believe it either. Bawling.

As to what comes after? Take your lead from me (or insert your afflicted person here). If I want to be open and talk, please listen for a bit.  Some people don’t mind answering questions about their disease, and I don’t mind answering because so few people seem to know much about it and how devastating it is. Any question asked sensitively is okay; if I don’t feel like talking about it at a particular time, I’ll let you know and I won’t be offended that you’ve asked.

If I’m seeing you for the first time, that’s going to be the hardest; after that we can resume our regularly scheduled friendship. As the shock has worn off, I’m less likely to talk about it or want to focus on it.

And something I should have added to yesterday’s post:

Please, do not judge my response. How I chose to handle this news, this devastating, life-changing news, is up to me. You get your own devastating life-changing news and handle it however you want but don’t you dare judge me and if you do? Have the decency, the humanity, to keep it to yourself. Because this is not about you. 

It’s one day at a time with this disease, so this is where this post ends; it’s just about what happens when you first hear the news. One day at a time.

For the hundreds of heart-felt responses, thank you. You may not see your exact words listed above, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important. ❤



3 thoughts on “So…what CAN I say?

Add yours

  1. Other than that fucking sucks, and I’m so sorry, love comes to mind. You are the best kind of friend, because you make us think, you make us feel, and you make us laugh: all of which are valuable qualities when we are looking for friends. That being said, you are best friend material, and I will cherish you now and every day of forever. Thank you for helping me to get my heart and mind working in tandem, and for being there those days that I needed you most. Your wit and wonderfully original way of seeing things has made my life better. I still get cranky sometimes, and mutter, why me?! But you have helped me laugh again, and have gotten my heart out of the freezer, just by being you. I don’t think you know what a gift you are to us, and since you don’t, we are here to tell you. We love you for being you. You are so wonderfully real, and so you, that you make it okay for us to be us.

    By the way, what did you think of the haunted motel story, and are you ready for the haunted houses stories? Also:❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


  2. Well … Fuck.
    Soooooooo, we ‘met’ virtually, through a mutual friend, just as you were packing up to leave Nova Scotia, briefly connected through mutual friends, a love of Newfoundlands, and Newfoundland, and of food and ‘bon vivants’ … and brief as our conversation was you were in the process of moving, and my own life got a bit .,.. well life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. And somehow we never really connected beyond that brief conversation … and I’m kinda pissed at myself because damn it all I really wanted to. Hell I thought I’d learned that lesson from my brother’s death in 2003.

    Having said all that – I’ll say this: you ain’t dead yet, and I refuse to freakin mourn you before you are. (sorry if that’s too blunt, but … yeah). You are marvellous, and I want to know you, I want to talk about things and life and death and food and wine, and travel and dogs and I want to have those conversations …. because, having been down the road of living changing diagnoses (mine and my children’s) … I’m NOT going to say I know what you’re going through – I don’t – but what I do know is that life can become all about the diagnosis, sometimes – in the best meaning of ways – people just want to talk about “how you’re doing?” or talk about the disease, or… and without meaning for it to happen – it becomes all about the disease. And for a while a person needs that, but your life is not the disease, you are not the disease. I don’t know – I’m probably doing my usual thing of saying too much of too much of the wrong thing at the wrong time and … but all I’m really trying to say is… right here, right now,

    I want to know about your LIFE.


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