Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

I Know You Mean Well But…

As many of you know, I have been toying around with the idea of writing a humorous, small book that shares all of the annoying, insensitive or inappropriate things that people have said to me over the past 5 years. The title of the book would be I Know You Mean Well But…because I genuinely believe that people have good intentions. They often get flustered and rather just say something sweet and pure like “I love you and I think it stinks you have to deal with this,” they try to fill the airtime with silly things.

Many of my friends have joked with me over the past few years saying that they are now even more cautious about what they say around me because they don’t want to be in the book. I tell people that although no names will be mentioned, it’s my hope that people “see” themselves in the stories of the book and learn how to be even more supportive and constructive to family members and friends who are dealing with cancer. It’s not a bad thing to realize that you may have said some of the things I mention in the book. In fact, before I went through this, I said a lot of the things that I realize now aren’t that helpful!

I also realize that every patient’s experience is a very personal one. Another patient may, in fact, appreciate something that might offend me.

I always tell people that the best thing to do is to just listen and “go with the flow”. Rather than bring an agenda to a conversation with a patient, just go in very open-minded and comfortable with letting the discussion flow in whatever way the patient is feeling. There are indeed some days that I want to do a lot more talking than others. My moods change and I can’t provide any “sure fire” approach that will always work.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will share with you something that really annoys me.MANY people have committed this foul so if you see yourself in this story, believe me, you are not alone.

I really don’t like when people inquire about the status of my hair growth.

It’s understandable why people ask…I haven’t been on chemo for 4 months now and naturally my hair is starting to grow back. Also, now when I go to the gym or wear a bandana, one can see that my hair is starting to grow back.

People often make the following type of comments:

· Stating the Obvious – “Jen, your hair is growing back”

· Inquiring/Being Nosy – “What’s going on with your hair?”

· Pressuring Me into not Wearing Wigs Anymore – “You should stop wearing your wig anymore, it looks fine”

My issue with these comments is that it’s really no one’s business what I do with my hair and I will take off my wigs when I am good and ready. In general, I hate comments that don’t really have a purpose. I don’t understand the intention of a comment like “Your hair is growing back”. Are you trying to say something deeper or you are content just making an observation that serves no purpose?

I think it makes other people feel better to see that my hair is growing back. To them, it’s a sign that maybe I am no longer sick.The reality though is that my hair growth is merely a physical representation of the fact that I haven’t had chemo in a few months.In no way does it mean that my odds of the cancer coming back have changed nor that I am in the clear health-wise.

It’s also tough for me, as my hair takes longer to grow back each time I have treatments. In the past, I have taken off my wigs just to have the cancer return a few months later. Then, suddenly, everyone is commenting on my hair because it went from a short cut to a long cut (the wigs). Basically, I just don’t want to deal with it right now.

If my hair growth meant that the odds were in my favor or that the doctors thought the cancer was really behind me, then I would understand why people want to talk about it.

If my hair growth was something that I expressed was important for me to talk about, then I would understand why people want to talk about it.

The truth is, I just don’t want to talk about it. Thanks for understanding. If you want to be supportive just tell me that you love me and you hope and pray that there is no more cancer in my future.