Cancer Tips

3 responses when someone questions your cancer treatment decisions

As a three-time cancer survivor, I get a surprising amount of questioning and comments about my cancer treatment decisions. From wondering why I didn’t do an aggressive (unneeded) surgery to input about my uterus (ha). Rather than get upset, I’ve learned how to respond to neutralize the conversation. Keep reading for 3 responses when someone questions your cancer treatment decisions.

Please know that I understand some people ask out of genuine interest. I welcome those kind of questions! In fact, I too ask questions out of curiosity (being aware that I don’t sound like I’m questioning/judging). I love learning about science, new treatments and options.

But I’m aware to make sure my questions don’t sound like judgement on their decisions (or at least I try!). Timing matters too. Because I’ve been questioned a lot about my treatment decisions (not in the curious way, and trust me, you learn the difference). Frankly, it’s the last thing you want to deal with when making decisions that affect YOUR LIFE! It’s enough to ensure you feel confident in your decisions, you don’t want someone else raising doubts. And even when you feel confident in your decisions, sometimes it takes that one voice to plant a seed of doubt.

A few of the questions or comments I’ve been asked about my treatment decisions:

  • You should have had a mastectomy. [My early stage breast cancer diagnosis didn’t recommend this aggressive surgery as it would not change the outcome or recurrence risk.]
  • Why did you cold cap to save your hair during chemo? You’re beautiful with or without hair (I also got ‘being bald is no big deal.’). [I was bald for 15 months during bone cancer treatment. I’m grateful I was able to save most of my hair during breast cancer – Read my cold capping experience.]
  • Why did you have only your ovaries removed? Just get a hysterectomy! [Uh, no. That’s a major surgery with its own share of side effects and it was unnecessary for my health.]
  • Take more calcium! Then you won’t worry about osteoporosis! [Cancer treatments can put you at risk for osteoporosis. Surgical menopause (as part of breast cancer treatment) caused the start of osteoporosis for me. Please make sure you take the calcium amount that your doctor recommends. Too much can harm.]
  • I would never do….(insert a treatment decision I made)! [Just don’t say this.]

So, yes, over 25 years and three cancers I’ve been asked a lot (some even amusing). I don’t take offense, mostly just smile. But sometimes it wears on me because I take my health incredibly serious. Trust me, I weigh every option and decision when it comes to my health. I have an awesome team of doctors who know all about my health. [Read tips for choosing a doctor.]

And making cancer treatment decisions isn’t just about clearing the cancer. Every treatment option has the risk of side effects, whether surgery, chemo, radiation or another. Quality of life matters too. To live a great life is why we fight! So there’s a lot to be factored in when deciding on cancer treatment.

Remember: kindness matters.

Here are 3 responses when someone questions your cancer treatment decisions:

3 responses when someone questions your treatment decisions

1. Thank you for your input, however, my doctors and I chose the best treatment plan for my cancer and health.

2. Thank you for your input. (Then silence. Nothing else needed.)

3. Mind your own d&%$ business. (This is kind of meant to be humorous because we can admit that there are times we’d like to be so blunt. And maybe there are real-life moments that you need to be so blunt!)

Bonus response:

That’s an interesting point of view. Thanks!

[Check out the fun Instagram reel that I made with these responses!]

What about you? How do you respond when someone questions your treatment decisions? Remember no matter anyone else’s opinion, YOU should be comfortable and trust in your decisions for cancer care.

And if you’re looking for ways to be a good friend during someone’s cancer journey, subscribe to this blog for free access to my resource library where you’ll find some help.

PS. If you’re on Instagram, I’d love for you to follow me for fun resources and tips!

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