Tag Archives: Molly Ivins

Stuff People Say to People With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Pundit Molly Ivins died of inflammatory breast cancer at age 62 in 2007.

“One of the first things you notice is that people treat you differently when they know you have [breast cancer],” she wrote. “The hushed tone in which they inquire, “How are you?” is unnerving. If I had answered honestly during 90% of the nine months I spent in treatment, I would have said, ‘If it weren’t for being constipated, I’d be fine.'”

In a similar vein, actress, writer and early stage breast cancer survivor Jenny Saldana recently teamed with Linda Nieves-Powell to create “Sh*t Girls Say to Girls With Breast Cancer.” It’s funny because it’s true…if you have breast cancer, you will have heard at least one of these clueless comments. That being said, I am sure that prior to my own diagnosis I made some of these same comments to others. Well, as Dear Abby used to say, 40 lashes with a wet noodle.

I should stress that in talking to other cancer patients, a spirit of tolerance and understanding  prevails. It’s not easy to know what to say and in most cases, the responses are truly heartfelt if often unintentionally hilarious.

Saldana and Nieves-Powell show great comic skill and creativity in this clip. As in similarly titled efforts, the actress is shown in various settings (getting something from the fridge, at the wheel of her car,) as she recites comments  such as “You’ll be fine,” and “It’s because you don’t have children.”

Don’t be put off by the title. It’s just a play on “Sh*t My Dad Says,” there is no cussing–it’s very funny!

I hope they will consider doing a similar piece specifically for people with metastatic breast cancer. My suggestions would include:

  • Well, you never know. You could get hit by a bus.
  • They don’t seem to be doing much for you.
  • Sheryl Crowe says it’s from drinking out of plastic water bottles, especially if they have been sitting in the sun.
  • Have you tried mistletoe?
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Make Them Hear You: Voices of Metastatic Breast Cancer

National MBC Awareness Day is  Oct. 13: http://goo.gl/pkLBc

Last weekend, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) launched an e-newsletter called “Voices.”

The name reminded me of a video MBC and LBBC  helped with last year: “Faces of Metastatic Breast Cancer.” 

The low-key video shows a variety of women doing every day things with their families and commenting on MBC. It’s not a public service awareness message–it’s not preachy. Some people are serious, but many are laughing, playing with their kids and so on. It’s well worth a look!

Here are some other women who have inspired me:

Molly Ivins: 

“Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you;
then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better
than that.”
–Molly Ivins 1944 – 2007, columnist, political commentator and humorist

Oni Faida Lampley:

“I woke yearning to see the faces of black women who’d survived cancer…I

went to the library and saw Celebrating Life by Sylvia Dunnavant sticking

out on the shelf. Inside were images of black survivors. Their stories
filled my spiritual arsenal.”

Oni Faida Lampley 1959-2008, playwright and actress

RivkA Matitya:

Blogger RivkA Matitya died of MBC last year at 44. The NY native immigrated to Israel 21 years ago. She was diagnosed with DCIS in 2005. Two years later her cancer metastasized. From New York to Jerusalem and all points in between RivkA With a Capital “A” touched people around the world. A thousand people attended her funeral.

“The first time I signed my name RivkA, it was a typo,” RivkA wrote in an early entry. “I liked the symmetry of the two capital letters at the beginning and end of my name. More importantly, it seemed like the perfect solution for signing my name the way I pronounce it.”

She always signed her posts “with love and optimism.”

Daria Maluta: 

Canadian blogger Daria Maluta (1961-2011) also touched people around the
world. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39. In 2004 she
had a recurrence in her chest area and four years later at 47 she was
diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.
Daria was a breast cancer advocate–she acted as a CBCN media spokesperson
and participated in many media interviews about metastatic breast cancer and
MBC Awareness Day.

This is Daria’s to do list from her blog:

Things to do today:

1. get up

2. survive

3. go back to bed

Randi Rosenberg:

“Good days are when I cross a lot of stuff off my to-do list, and I roll
around with my 3-year-old and play music and giggle and have tickle fights.”
–Randi Rosenberg, co-founder of the Young Survival Coalition, 1966-2010

Dr. Jerri Nielsen Fitzgerald:

“I am just now wrapping my brain around the fact that I have metastasis and
I look at my life in a different way and I think that’s what we all do
through out life.”

–Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald 1957-2009


Elizabeth Edwards:

“[Your family] feel[s] they want to take care of you and they feel a certain
amount of hopelessness, because there’s obviously not a whole lot they can
do that would change your outcome. And if you really express to them how
frightened you are or how depressed you are, for them that’s fairly
depressing news, because they can’t do anything about it; it’s outside their
control. And I hate that.”

–Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010

Kay Yow:

“This is completely different from being in stage I. There is no comparison.
The chemo treatments are powerful [and] strong. I have a lot of side issues.
My life is really changed. You do what you have to do. You don’t just slip
away. You don’t know how much life is ahead for you. Obviously, none of us
knows that, but it becomes really clear when you are in a situation like I
am. Don’t put life on hold. Go on and live. There are a lot of things I
still want do.”
–Kay Yow 1942-2009, NC State basketball coach

Lynn Redgrave:

“I have my moments of such sadness. They hit me quite suddenly. My loss of
innocence. The innocence that made me feel that cancer couldn’t happen to
–Lynn Redgrave 1943-2010

Lori Baur:

“Breast cancer awareness is great, and raising money is great. But the most important thing is we need a cure.

I would trade this day to not have cancer or have ever had it or to ever hear about it again.”

Lori Baur, 1970-2011

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