“Advice not wanted…”
By Nola Addante
Edited by Barbara Bigelow
This morning I saw a post on Instagram about a dying cancer patient lamenting and ruminating about the what ifs…” what if I would have eaten better or differently? or slept differently/better?” ….in other words, feeling guilty, thanks to all the advice people have thrown at her since she was diagnosed with cancer.
In the two years since I was diagnosed, first with initial breast cancer and then, stage IV, I have been the “lucky” target of a LOT of unwanted and un-asked-for advice from (mostly) well-meaning friends and family.
Today, I was thinking about this and a light bulb went off in my head. I came to the realization that MOST people are giving you advice based on something THEY are passionate about. For instance, if someone is passionate about being a vegan, they’ll push that agenda on you (IF they’re the type to give advice that’s not asked for…). Or, if they’re a Christian, they’re primary concern is whether your soul is right with God and they’ll push that on you. If doing the Joe Tippens’ protocol (dog dewormer/Fenbendazole) is what worked for their uncle John’s cancer, they’re going to try and convince you to try that! Or they heard about “How Chris Beat Cancer” and they’ll send you multiple messages until you try that, because, after all, all cancers are the same, right? (sarcasm intended) …
Instead of getting offended anymore by the unwanted advice, I simply acknowledge it and move on. It’s not worth getting mad about. When you have a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, you ALREADY have spent multiple hours ruminating and beating yourself about every, single, little or big, unhealthy thing you’ve ever done since you were a baby! I think that’s the reason why most of us cancer patients are simply weary of the unwanted advice. Even if it IS well-meaning and good intentioned. Most of us have beaten ourselves up and asked, “Why, why, why?” more times than you can even imagine.
There comes a point in the journey where we simply do the best we can to have a better QOL (quality of life), and that’s not always the same for every person who is or isn’t fighting cancer. Even though I’m not working as a nurse anymore, I’m still a nurse. And I can tell you this: there are guidelines, sure, but the prescription for a healthy life might look different for each person. And, when it comes to fighting cancer, it’s no different. I talked to someone who is getting the same chemo I got 39 times: Taxol. This lady is experiencing much different side effects than I ever did, and she’s only gotten about 8-10 treatments so far.
My hope is that we will ALL learn to be more gentle with each other, taking time to understand the other person and THEIR journey, instead of trying to force our agenda on them and everyone else. Love them, listen to them, don’t judge them, and IF they ASK for advice, give it. But, if they don’t choose to follow your advice, give them the grace they need to follow their own path.