There are some people I have encountered during this whole cancer experience that I like to call “squawkers”. These unfortunate people caused me so much grief. They sometimes terrified me, sometimes saddened me and sometimes infuriated me.

These are the people who, for some reason, think that they have medical degrees that they don’t have, who think that they know all that there is about the human condition, or who think they are entitled to know every detail of your personal life and medical history.

The first type of “squawker” is just dense. I really don’t think that they realize that what they are saying is potentially harmful to the listeners. These are the receptionist at the various medical facilities who looked at me and said “Oh my GOD! You are so young to have cancer!” Thank you very much. I take no comfort in the fact that you work for a doctor and should have seen everything and by your reaction are confirming to me that I am a rare case. I already know that the chances of getting cancer at my age are so slim. I had a better chance at hitting the lottery. Thank you for confirming it, though. Not helpful at all to my emotional well-being.

Another example of the unintentional “squawker” is the woman sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, speaking way too loudly, who says things in front of me like “Everyone I have known that is diagnosed in their thirties ends up dying” or “The younger you are, the more aggressive it is – usually not a good outcome”. They say these things with a slight shake of the head and a strange “tsk” sound. I one time overheard a woman tell a visibly shaken young lady (probably just diagnosed and in her thirties) that she should NOT take tamoxifen as it can give you strokes and kill you. Now, tamoxifen happens to be the only hormone therapy for estrogen positive cancer that women who are pre-menopausal can take. In other words, this girl probably had no other option so, how nice of you to tell her that the medicine she will have to take could give her a stroke. I’m hoping that the poor girl didn’t decide NOT to take it based on that nimwit’s comments.

Then, there are the people who should know better. I call them the mean “squawkers”. They understand that the crap spewing out of their mouths is potentially hurtful but, are either too irresistibly nosey or just plain mean to stop themselves.

Case in point; I sat next to a woman at my surgeon’s office at the beginning of my ordeal. She began asking me some very personal questions. For some reason, I started answering her. She then came right out and shouted “How could you let the doctors remove both breasts? You should have gotten a second opinion. I would never have done that!”. Number one, how do you know that I didn’t get a second opinion, number two, it’s too late now. If I had any doubts about my decision, thanks for intensifying them. Lastly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you would have done!

Another time, while in the hospital recovering from a major surgery, someone from anesthesiology came in to check on my “pain control”. After the brief discussion regarding my pain level and my morphine pump, this nurse, this medical professional, began saying things like, “I can’t believe you were diagnosed at 31 years old! “You know the kind of infection you have sometimes never goes away?” “WHAT? You and your mother both had breast cancer and you have two sisters? They better be careful – you probably have the BRCA gene mutation!” (Which, by the way, we don’t). I found myself getting more and more anxious. I was trapped in the room with her. I started hitting the morphine button a mile a minute. Twice, as I was crying, I told her that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore but, she just wouldn’t stop. I finally rang the nurses button and yelled that I needed help. This is a true story. Only when the nurse came in and told this nut that she was upsetting me did she leave. Without an apology, I might add.

Then, there are just dummies. Honestly. This is the “squawker” who asks me at the plastic surgeon, “What are you here for? A nose job?” Well, no, actually. I didn’t realize that there was anything wrong with my nose but, thanks for giving me another physical trait to be insecure about. Or, the woman who kept interrupting my game of “Hangman” with 8-year-old Jack at a doctor’s waiting room to ask me questions like “What do you have – cancer? “ “What kind?” “What surgery did you have?” She went on and on. I tried to signal to her with my eyes that I was this was not a topic I wanted to discuss, especially in front of my 8-year-old son but, she didn’t get it. (Dummy) I actually had to say “I really would prefer not to talk about it” at which time she turned in a huff and muttered, “How rude!” Can you imagine? I’m rude! Unbelievable!

So, my friends, I know that there are quite a few people following this blog who are affected in some way by cancer or some other illness.  Here are some helpful hints.

Invest in an IPOD or MP3 player. You will avoid the talk around you that may inadvertently scare of upset you.  You might think wearing the IPOD or MP3 alone will stop the “squawkers” from speaking to you but, it won’t.  In order to avoid potentially annoying conversation you have to avoid eye contact. Making eye contact is like inviting conversation to the “squawkers”.

Remember, every cancer, every illness is unique.  You don’t need unsolicited medical advice. Most of the time, people have no idea what they are talking about anyway. As an estrogen positive breast cancer survivor, soy is not my friend. I have been told by my doctor to avoid it when I can. You have no idea how many people have told me to add soy to my diet.

Do not be bullied by the “squawkers”. If someone is asking you questions that are personal, just tell them it is personal. You have friends and family to share your thoughts and fears with.

The bottom line is, you need to find a doctor you like and trust and then, let them give you the advice. I wish I had been warned about the “squawkers” – it would have saved me a lot of grief.

I hope I have spared some for you.