Thrusting Goodwill (aka Unsolicited Advice)

More and more lately I’ve seen talk about unsolicited advice. It seems that people just can’t seem to keep their opinions about your illness to themselves. Whether online or offline, there is no end to the offers of essential oils, calls to do yoga, and piles and piles of turmeric that get flung at you on a daily basis. So how do you navigate this particularly tricky area when it’s your turn for unsolicited help?

"Do you have cancer?"

It can happen when you least suspect it, you’ve just come from chemo and you realize you have to stop at the grocery store because you are out of oat milk (which is surprisingly good! I think it comes from oat cows or something.) You run in to grab the beverage, and while waiting on the checkout counter someone behind you in line notices your shaved head and asks, “excuse me, do you have cancer?” Taken aback at the brazenness of the total stranger with a shopping cart full of pickled herring (weird), you blurt out “yes” without thinking. Suddenly, this maven of brined seafood is regaling you with the benefits of essential oils and how it cured their seasonal allergies, which of course means it also must cure cancer! You nod and smile, doing your best to extricate yourself from the conversation with your nerves (and your oat milk) intact. Sound familiar?

I think all of us have experienced some form of what I call “thrusting goodwill.” Be it a total stranger like the above, or a co-worker, or even a family member or friend, you just can’t seem to avoid the fact that every person you have ever met and even ones you haven’t yet have a guaranteed home remedy for cancer. CANCER – the thing that pharmaceutical companies and medical biologists spend billions of dollars and years researching to find a way to curtail, can apparently be cured by several easy to procure home tinctures and salves, or, at least that’s what your Uncle Earl would have you believe.

Diffusing the situation without hurting feelsings

When it’s a stranger, it’s pretty easy. If you want to tell them to go take a long walk off a short pier, then you can. They stink and you don’t know them anyway. When it comes to well-wishing friends and relatives, though, it’s a little more difficult. You can’t very well tell your mother-in-law to take her ginger cookies and shove them up her... in-law hole. I mean, not unless you really like having cancer and ALSO sleeping on the couch. So, you need to put on kid gloves and gingerly (see what I did there) refuse. Well, you are in luck because I have found the perfect way to diffuse the situation without hurting anyone’s feelings and also shutting it down for good. It’s just one little word that saves you a heap of trouble. Have you guessed it yet? You lie.

What? Did he say to lie? Be dishonest? Besmirch the sacred honor of “my word is my bond?” Yup. Do all three. All you have to say when someone pushes some folk remedy or heaping spoonfuls of turmeric on you is, “thanks but I’ve already tried it.” Simple. Done. Kaput. Say it with me now, “Thanks, but I’ve already tried it.” See, it wasn’t so hard, and guess what – no one’s feelings got hurt. Not yours, not your friend’s or relatives, and certainly not your grocer. Essential oil diffuser? No thanks, tried it. Hot yoga? Nope, gave it a go, wasn’t for me. Eating baby spinach leaves while hanging off the Brooklyn Bridge? Yup, did that too, it was cold up there but no less cancer. Just tell people you’ve tried all the popular home cancer remedies and that you appreciate their concern, but it just didn’t work for you.

"It wasn't for me, thanks..."/h2> It’s a little bit different when someone surprises you. Maybe they show up with a box of turmeric (does it come in boxes?) or a random person on Twitter decides to offer you advice on your feed, but you can still do that thing I said above, you know, about the lying. If someone shows up at your house with some of that good ol’ cancer hokum, just tell them thanks and you’ll try it later. When no one is watching. Or waiting right in front of you. Then later on you can use the good old, “It wasn’t for me, thanks.” Easy, peasy, lying squeezy. No one gets hurt and you don’t have to find hiding places for boxes and boxes of disgusting candied ginger that no one in the world actually likes. Besides, Zofran beats ginger in the rock, paper, nausea game every time.Look, you have cancer. Your main purpose right now is to survive, and you do that by keeping your stress to an absolute minimum and focusing on one thing – fighting your illness. So, anything that gets you back to that fast and with the least amount of fuss is allowed, even if it’s a bit of a fib. Now I’m not saying to go home from chemo and tell your spouse to go screw themselves when they show up with a neck pillow that they thought might make you feel better. Obviously don’t do that, but you can tell your neighbor who insists on putting their trash out at 12 pm every day that you have already tried the Alkaline diet and it didn’t charge your batteries at all. If anyone says anything you tell them that I granted you a temporary cancer-fibbing pass. Talk soon.

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