For some reason, people are afraid to ask me how I am. Why? I am not sure.
It could be that they are trying to be considerate of me. To not make me think about the tough stuff. To let me lead in offering info. Or because they think it might make me sad.
But guess what, THAT'S NOT WHO I AM!!! I am a blabber mouth, the proverbial open book, the guy that doesn't get offended or put off by any question. I love to talk, I am not shy at all.
So, if you want to ask me anything at all, go for it! Here are some sample questions (any question is fine to ask, these are just thought starters):
So what's wrong with you anyway?
Is it bad?
How did you learn about your diagnosis? What was that like?
Who are your Drs? Do you like them? Are you getting 2nd opinions?
What does that diagnosis mean?
How are you dealing with the labels you now have (ie, having cancer)
How are you feeling mentally? Are you dealing with things ok or are you struggling? (A bonus is an offer to be a listener)
How are you feeling physically? What symptoms do you have?
What treatments are you doing? Are they working? Any thoughts as to why they are or aren't? What's next?
How's your family doing? Are they ok, it must be very tough on them.
How has all of this impacted you? What have you learned so far? Has this changed you? If so, how?
Hopefully, that helps and shows that I am fine with any question on any topic from anyone at any time. A lot of people in my position are happy to share. If you aren't sure if they are like me, just ask them! Don't tiptoe around us.
The strangest thing is that people will ask others how I am doing and not ask me. I am here and always available to update anyone who wants to listen. I have had people that have been with me, never asked me anything, yet have asked someone else in the room about how I am doing when I am not listening. Kind of nuts. "Active Caring", another phrase I just made up, is always welcomed.
I guess my last point is that if you don't want to ask, you shouldn't ask. You need to make sure that you are comfortable. But if there is anything inside of you that has a question, go for it. I ( and we -- some patients and caregivers) am not fragile and don't break easily!