In 2011 my late grandfather was diagnosed with lung Cancer, none of us knew how far along it was but judging by his physical appearance it was clear to us that he wouldn’t be around much longer. People visited him, prayed for him, showed him both sympathy and empathy. But my grandfather smoked like a chimney, he’d have about 25+ cigarettes a day. Yet he still got all of this understanding from people.
In October of that year, we rushed him to the ER and practically saw the life drain from his pale, tiny body. 20 Minutes later after they had stabilised him we heard the heart monitor and we knew he was gone. The week leading up to his funeral was okay but it wasn’t until I was carrying the coffin that contained his lifeless body that I realised he was gone. Realisation hit me twice after that, once while I was reciting a poem on stage in honour of him I had a little meltdown and again when I watched them lower his coffin as I stood by his graveside. To say I had an emotional breakdown after is an understatement, after a month of mourning I picked myself up and went on with life.
9 months later I was diagnosed with IH after 6 weeks of doctors visits. But I didn’t receive the same gestures my granddad did, I got no empathy or sympathy all I got was people saying:
” When are you going to get better now? “
” You know maybe you should try exercising “
” What are you doing here? You’re wasting your father’s money “
” At least it’s not Cancer “
And you know what it’s because of people saying inappropriate shit like this that I started thinking about this whole ‘ at least it’s not Cancer ‘ bit.
Please don’t get me wrong…
I support many Cancer foundations and I believe a cure needs to be found for this dreadful disease. BUT! Just because it’s not Cancer doesn’t mean the pain is less, just because it’s not Cancer doesn’t mean we deserve less sympathy or empathy. Just because it’s not Cancer doesn’t mean we struggle less or don’t deserve a cure.
Society needs to stop judging a disease on whether it’s Cancer or not. Just like Cancer patient’s, people with chronic illnesses did not ask for it. Just because it’s not Cancer doesn’t mean you have a right to give your unwarranted opinion about it. I mean I haven’t seen someone go up to a Cancer patient and say: ” Hey want to go for a run? Weight loss could help you. ” or ” Have you tried ( insert some ridiculous medical advice here ) yet? “. So what gives them the right to do that to the chronically ill?
So here’s my message to those people who’ve done this:
Please stop judging my illness based on if it’s Cancer or not, please stop thinking my struggles are less because it’s not Cancer I have. Because while Cancer sufferers have it bad so do the chronically ill.
Until next time 🙂