Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cancer Faux Pas

I love to meditate before I write. I often ask for guidance and inspiration so that I can uplift myself and other cancer cowgirls. Today, my intuition tells me the following: Screw that! Let's get naughty! he he he. Folks just say the darnest things sometimes, don't they? They mean well, they are good people, but sometimes judgement knocks and there ain't no one home. I think my next book should be a Cancer Miss Manners. Would that be a hoot or what? We could all write down the outrageous verbal bullets we've dodged over the cancer years and finally release the issues from our tissues. Here are a few new ones I've received on the road. Hope ya giggle!

In a recent local news interview the whole tone was somber and boo hoo. The anchor person had such a sad puppy look on her face while speaking to me in an annoyingly wanna-be soothing tone. Some of these media things take place at ungodly hours, which ties one hand behind your back due to the grog factor. But still I made an olympic and coffee free (bad idea) attempt to muster up some more love fire in order to make over the face of cancer that she was painting. Anyone who reads my book, sees the film or bops around on my blog knows that I am a spit fire and a handful. I am not a victim or a sad sack. Yes, I live with cancer but big whoop! I'm over it, but I forget sometimes that others will never be. Even the title of my projects don't encourage a head scratch and a hmmmm for some. So get this, the segment begins and this is how I was introduced. "We're here with Kris Carr who bravely documented her life....and possibly her DEATH". What?!?!? Way to catch a gal off guard to TV. My response: "Well, that was dramatic, good morning!" FAUX PAS.

Then there are the people who continue to tell me about all the friends and family members in their lives that just died painful, terrible unimaginable deaths from stage IV cancer (my fabulous stage) but then end their sentence with, "but how are you?"
"Fine, thanks."
"Well, so and so wasn't, wow that was tough, not a pretty picture, devastingly gut wrenching...But how are you?"
"Once again, I'M FINE!" Listen, I know this journey can be down right awful and sad but I'm a cancer patient (AKA survivor) too and sometimes I wish folks would think before they remind me of my impending dirt nap.

These may not seem funny to you but they are to me. I've been on this road for years now and the faux pas rarely penetrate any more. I even have a stalker that calls book signings acting like a family member only to try and scare the crap out of me with nutty treatments that if I don't take in a specfic way, I will expire!... quite possibly at the signing, face planting on a pile of books.

Just another day at the Office! Hey, what's a favorite faux pas of yours? Would love to know I'm ot alone in the madness! :)

PS. I'm off to San Fransico today! Please check out and stop by if you can.

Big love!


Cori said...

Hi Cancer Sister,

I'm a 36 year old mom with Leukemia. Its been a tough year but I'm very positive. I loved your show, very encouraging. I know what you mean when people are sad or sympathetic when they talk to you about your cancer. I feel like I'm the one that has to bring their mood up. It seems like some people want to take me "coffin shopping" Hello, lets go clothes shopping or go see a funny movie. As soon as my white count comes up I want to start some of the fresh foods that I saw you making in your show. I will have to search your site to see if you talk about that or give a book recommendation. Anyway, love yah and keep on keepin' on!!!! -Cori

Jen Singer said...

Good idea, Kris. I just blogged about a friend who actually referred to my chemo this way: "Well, you're almost done with all that."

"All that?" Like I have the flu or I'm getting a boob job. And no, even after chemo, I'm not "done."

Here's a doctor faux pas: I wrote about the oncologist whose cell phone went off during my bone marrow biopsy. The tune? "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.
Here's the link to that entry on my Good Housekeeping blog, where I write about cancer once a week and kids the rest of the time:

Jen Singer

Rachel said...

One time when I had relapsed a third time and a perfect stranger found out, he asked to my face, "Are you terminal?"

Well, let's see and find out ;).

trickyds said...

Chica you are so cool. That blog was awesome and to the point. You are a spitfire for sure. They should embrace life like you do. We can all learn a lot from you. Hope your romantic time with the hubby relifted your energy and spirits. Though you don't need it. It's always nice to spend quality time with the person you love. Touching is such a wonderful healer. Have a great week ahead. Listen to some Dave Matthews Band and do a dance for me. Jamaway jamaway =)

Dani said...

What a stupid reporter! But yes, I am sure you are used to it by now. I lost count of how many times perfect strangers have looked at me and said: "oh, you had liver cancer?! That's pretty bad, hum? Are you sure you are OK?" And others, while trying to convince me chemo was not that bad: "Well, you'll see some people there with no hair or throwing up and looking really bad, but the important thing is that you are doing all you can to get better." It was hard to swallow in the beginning...but now I just laugh.

CathyB said...

Hey Kris,

Loved this post for sure!! It is so true. I am 38 and a 6 year breast cancer survivor. I was working as an occupational therapist during my chemo, and after my hair fell out and I was sportin the bandanna at work one morning one of my coworkers ask me "Hi Cathy,are you working today?" With a puzzled look I said "Of course otherwise why would I be here? Why are you asking?" To that she stuck her foot in her mouth and said "Well, I wasnt sure since you were wearing a bandannna." I stopped in my tracks wondering how this person had become the cancer patient fashion guru! Apparently I was committing some sort of cancer fashion fauxpas!
Definitely lots of crazy peeps out there who just dont know what the hek to say.
You just gotta laugh.....
Luv ya,
Cathy :)

Kristin said...

Hi, Kris,

Just found your blog and I love it. It makes me smile. You're amazing and seem to have such a full life. And I thought I was busy. Keep it up!


Scott said...

A Cancer Miss Manners book would be great.

Holly and I were talking about how all of a sudden baldness = cancer expert. People are asking her questions even an oncologist couldn't answer.

Loved the film. Hope to see you on Sunday in SF.


Karson said...

This entry cracked me up. I think I even snorted out loud. "Heehaw!" ;) Here are two more stories:

Shortly after my husband and I both shaved our heads (his was for support of course), my husband was at a coffee place that he frequents regularly. The woman who regularly serves him asked about his shaved head. He explained my situation and another worker actually said, "Aw, I hope she makes it." WHAT?!

I was at a store with a scarf on my head and my hair was beginning to peek out from underneath. The worker said with a snide look, "Get a bad haircut?" I told him it was due to chemo. I should have told him the hairstylist was my oncologist - oh, hindsight.

Thanks for the laughs today!

TLH said...

My best ones come from a pregnant friend: "I can drive you to chemo and we can puke together." Or "Chemo is like being pregnant. You have diet restrictions and you're tired." I pointed out that there was the fact that I'm trying to *kill* what is growing in me. And I haven't puked.

Overall, my boyfriend and I remind ourselves that in 16 years the cancer won't be trying to get our car!

Jessie said...

haha I think this is my favorite blog yet....! I love when people ask me how bad bone marrows hurt and what they do. Ok, A) I dont want to relive those moments ever, let alone talk about them in detail. and B) Its a GIANT freakin needle, what do you think!? Luckily I have a fantastic boyfriend who can read my signs and intercept!
A Cancer Miss Manners book is a necessity! I want to take so many of your "Faux Paus" and wear em on a shirt! LoL.

Jessie (Chi-Town!!!)

Kristy said...

When I was on IV chemo (5 days in a row every month for 4 months), I ended up spending about a week in bed during/after each round. My friend said, "I wish I could sleep for a week!" More recently, I switched to oral chemo and sometimes have to take a nap during my treatment. Different friend: "Naps? I wish I had time for a nap!"

Believe me, I'd sure prefer not to have to spend so much time reclining....

Anna said...

Hi Kris!

It sounds like that reporter couldn't get over the first ten minutes of the documentary when you speak of the statistics and negative stuff. I mean if you're sitting there you obviously didn't chronical your death right? I guess some people can't get over the first part to see the rest of the AMAZING story, hmmm.

We have a close family friend who has had cancer five times (and this last time it relapsed she will be on her chemo infusion for the rest of her life). I emailed her and asked how she was doing. When she said she was feeling sad I said sometimes you just have to say "screw it". I told her to watch Little Miss Sunshine and have some haagen dazs (her favorite), it helped her feel better.

mimuna said...

Hey Sunshine!
I've got a ton of faux pas stories, but this is the most recent-- last week a new therapist said to me "You know who gets cervical cancer dont you? Promiscuous women." (!!!!) I wont bore you with the details, but I am not promiscuous, and even if I was I dont deserve cancer for any reason......

bav said...

So true, so true!! I love that we can all laugh about this together. I had a neighbor of my mom's (whose husband died of cancer several years ago, ie she should know better) ask me upon learning I had cancer in this real hushed voice, "well, is it life-threatening?" I said, "I have malignant metastatic heart cancer so..." And she goes, "yeah, but you know, life-threatening?" Finally I just said, "well I'm not dying today!" During my chemo, I was going for massages, reiki, acupuncture, chakra clearing etc and one of my friends one day said, "Geez, when I die I want to come back with your life." WHAT?!? Too funny. Kris, I think another funny blog topic might be all the silly, stupid things WE have said/done when we are gorked out during treatment. I have some doozies! :)
Dance the night away...

Diana said...

Hi Kris! I got to meet you in Chicago (friend of Rachel's who sat next to you during Heidi's presentation). I'm on chapter 3 of your book (thanks for the free copy!)and just want to let you know that the book is amazing so far, even for someone who never has had to deal with cancer on a personal level. I think women everywhere should read your book because it really shows a strength that many of us wish we had. By the way, being a Colombian myself, I loved the part where you refer to your mom's fieryness because she is half-Colombian (I've been told that about myself!). - Diana

Hans Rueffert said...

I lost about 70 pounds after my stomach cancer ordeal and I constantly have people come up to me and say, "Wow! You've lost a lot of weight! What's your secret?"

"Stomach Cancer," I answer cheerily, "but I wouldn't recommend it."

That's always followed by "Oh I'm so sorry" and then tangible awkwardness.

I host a cooking show on local television and was on the Next Food Network Star in 2005, so some people have to ask "Well how did you get the cancer? Was it something you ate?" Yeah...I had to give up my daily shots of latex paint.

Now I just embrace it. Never trust a skinny chef...except me.


Kate said...

Two stories:
-A coworker was complaining about her struggle with her weight and I told her I was having a problem with food b/c I had no appetite. Her response, 'You're so lucky!'

-After being diagnosed(stage IV, most likely breast), a friend said 'we'll get you through this even though it will take a miracle.' Ouch.

I'm so happy that I'm able to laugh at those now.

kate t

thejuicechick said...

hi Kris,

my Faux Pas story was what happened to my hubby upon hearing that I had Stage 3 colon cancer (from my surgeon no less!).

The doc was trying to console my husband who was dealing with his 39 yr old wife, mother of 5, being diagnosed.

He said, "Well, you have to die from something."

oh well.

I ain't dead yet!

We actually laughed about it while I was recovering from the surgery because my hubby did a great impression, foreign accent and all.

When you're in San Franciso, put some flowers in your hair.....

peace, emily the juice chick

rockinrobin said...

Howdy Kris,

I wanted you 2 know how much of an inspiration you are..
I met you in Denver hope you enjoyed my compilation CD.
Most of the time people mean well they just don't use common sense. Although it's not so common anymore.

After about my 3rd chemo treatment a lady asked "so..have you had a recurrence?" What the...Can I please just deal with one cancer at a time before we move on the something else.

My second faux pas:
Well you know you could get hit by a bus walking across the street.
Well..cancer is like the bus sitting in my driveway.

I often wonder what brain processes occur before people open there mouth to speak.
Happy Anniversary!!

Hay kid, rock and roll
Rock on , OOH my soul-Robin

Melanie said...

Hello Kris and fellow 'adventurers'. I can't stand the media sometimes. Death!?!? What was she thinking? Or not thinking I should say.

I am 31 and had stage IIA breast cancer, but I'm not 'done' either. I just came to the Crazy Sexy Cancer site recently after a friend forwarded it to me. I missed the documentary (which I wish I would've seen) but I'll let TLC know I want them to air it again. You are truly an inspiration Kris.

Even though some might not consider my diagnosis was that serious, I don't think it matters. Cancer is cancer and we all endure hardships along our journey.

Some might not consider it a faux pas but I hated it when I told someone I had cancer and they would say, "I'm so sorry." I wish their first words would've been something like "So what's your plan of attack?" Anyway, I love what you're doing and keep it up!

Bizzikid said...

Some people don't get it...technically we are all terminal, just some have a visible sense that it may happen sooner...but that is not necessarily the case as canser is NOT the #1 cause of death. You have the right attitude and I think your book idea is fantastic. The main reason is that some just do not know how to deal with other's faux pas and you give it such a light spin! Take care and keep the light on!

Paula :)

cancer cowgirl xo said...


CanSer is canSer, you are totally right girl. Isn't that insulting! Someone on the TLC site had the nerve so say I had no right to call myself a survivor because I hadn't lost my hair etc etc. I wanted to find her and bite her. Oh, yeah, well I have a stage 4 canSer that doesn't seem to want to depart EVER. Try living with that cupcake! giggle giggle. :0

Kathleen said...

I'm a melanoma survivor. And I completely loved "CSC"!

Soon after diagnosis, I told some coworkers and my boss. My coworker Muriel: "You can't have cancer. You have all your hair!"


Jayne said...


Love your book and your attitude. I will be out of town this weekend and will miss your SF stop, wanted to tell you to check out Cafe Gratitude while you are here. They are in SF and San Rafael, they are gourmet raw food with dishes titled "I am Grateful", "I am abundant", "I am joyful"....etc. WONDERFUL food and I think you'd enjoy the experience as well.

mimuna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mimuna said...

Oh the "hit by a bus" comment! tee hee hee. Someone repeated that comment made by a friend in my old support group, and we all gasped. Every single one of us had heard that before in reply to our cancer!

I haven't heard it since, but if I do I'm going to use the "bus is in my driveway" reply!

thanks for sharing!

Robyn said...

Hey Kris!

I'm currently taking care of my mother after finding out she had kidney cancer. We were laughing at the stories people had shared here and decided to share some of ours...

My aunt had cancer from her head to her toes and had been doing very aggressive chemo when her lungs began to hurt and breathing became hard! That week at her visit she mentioned it to her doctor who, without doing a scan, simply said "eh, it's probably just some cancer in your lungs now too..."
just some can... nevermind!

Also after telling a friend I had moved back in with my mom to take care of her, she said to me, "wow, that must suck!" Yes, I am really bummed that I can have parties til 4 am anymore. It really was more important than my mom, and now she's cramping my style! I still have to clean up vomit though. Thanks mom.

anna said...

Chris, reading you book and loving it, it makes me feel normal more then ever

We sometimes live in parallel reality, it is hard for some people to understand and not have the surprising look “You still alive?” when they see you …

Il ne faut pas!

Celebrating my first anniversary of wait and watch, stage 4, incurable, 44 yo and sexy, feeling great! Anybody in the area?
Montreal, Canada

JJhiker148 said...

Dear Kris,
Literally 10 minutes ago, a pop-up revealed itself on my monitor and it happened to be of your documentary. I watched the 7 minute segment and immediately had to learn more about you. You are an inspiration... and whether or not a person is fighting cancer, or a disease, you are uplifting each indiviual and making them open their eyes to life in general... something we often take for granted. I am fortunate enough to have not been diagnosed with any life threatening illnesses... however, I don't want to have to wait for something like that to make me truly want to live a full life. So thank you from the depths of my being... and I will continue to keep myself informed with your progress as well as educate myself on what I can do to possibly help. Thank you again ~ Janice

Snafu Suz said...

Here's one from my oncologist, of all people...

I was diagnosed about 6 weeks before my 40th birthday. I started chemo after my birthday. When my onc looked at my chart and saw that I had just turned 40 he says, "Oh wow, you just turned 40? I turned 40 in April. Turning 40 was really hard for me. Was it for you?" And I'm thinking, uh no, turning 40 wasn't a big deal since I WAS JUST DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER!!! I kinda was worried about THAT on my birthday, not being 40!

Oh well, he didn't mean anything by it. He's actually a great guy, but it just goes to show that even people surrounded by cancer all the time don't really know what it's like unless they've had it. I wasn't mad or offended even at the time - it just made me laugh.

I heard about your documentary the day AFTER it aired. I'm so bummed! Heard great things about it. Glad I found your blog. Looking forward to TLC rerunning it or it coming out on video!

Rock on, cancer sista!

Ilana said...

Hey Kris,
We met in SF tonight (funky orange dress). Thank you for "passing the torch", I will use it with honor until it's time to pass it forward!

I'm 37 and in the middle of radiation for breast cancer now, but when I was on an off week of chemo a few months ago, still a little sallow, in a bandanna with spotty eyebrows and few eyelashes, my favorite cancer faux pas occurred.

I was attempting to "participate" in my outdoor bootcamp exercise class that I've been doing for years and my trainer had me doing light versions of the exercises the rest of the group was doing off to the side and a woman asked me "What do I have to do to get such an easy workout?" I just smiled, took off my bandanna and said calmly "lose a boob". I saw her foot go in to her mouth :) It was a great way to start my day!!

Good luck on the rest of your tour and rock on cancer chick!! ~Ilana

FiveFunFearlessFemales said...


I wish I had heard about you prior to your visit to DC in the last week or so so I could have thanked you in person. In May, I lost a very good friend of mine to lymphoma. Her attitude, much like yours, was to say 'the hell with it, I'm living, not dying.' She lost her 8-year battle while on vacation with her Mom, near the ocean on one last hoorah-- her wish in the last year was to travel to as many places as she could. Really, one big last delicious 'fuck you' to it all. She was such an amazing person and not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about her in some way. That's the legacy of her life, not her death. I really almost wanted to cry raging tears when your site opened with butterflies... a symbol she also embraced as a rebirth through her illness.
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world had come to an end, it turned into a butterfly." ~Anonymous
Thank you for being brave enough, and selfless enough, and ballsy enough to share your story with strangers. It is one that you are certainly not writing alone.

cancer cowgirl xo said...

Treat cancer with flavonoids. With all due respect, please stop posting on my blog. You are trying to sell products, I do not endorse them and I tired of your constant bombardment. Please stop or I will blog about you and send a warning letter to the thousands of people on my mailing list. You are harassing people.

Kris Carr

Jessie said...

So, I got my first "are you gonna die?" Last night! I admire you ladies, it really knocked me off my feet. I don't understand people. BBUUTT I simply responded with "are you gonna die?", with a bit of sass, and walked away. AHH. That sucks.

Christina said...

Dear Kris,

I absolutely love your blog, book, and Documentary. I am living with SLE -- a serious form of lupus, and I get my share of Faux Pas as well...sometimes they really get to me, but most of the time, I am a sassy lupus sister with a great sense of humor toward the whole thing....

1. When people find out that I have lupus [and I'm not in the middle of a follicular mutiny], the first thing that flies out of their mouths is "But you don't look sick!" Sometimes, I'd just like to answer back, "Yeah? And you don't look ignorant!"

2. My hair fell out about a month ago. It's not the first time it's happened, but it's still hard the first couple of days. I decided to take myself out to the lake for a swim, and a very inquisitive pre-schooler struck up a conversation with me about why I don't have any hair. Her mother ran screaming into the water for her daughter to get away from me --"Sabrina,get away from that bald woman, you might catch it!" I looked that woman straight in the face and said to her, "Lady, bald is temporary. Stupid is forever." I am seriously thinking of getting a tee shirt made up with that on it.

3. This one is really cute. I work with children, and one little boy was looking at my face really hard one day [i was wearing my wig at this point, so he didn't know i was bald]. He put his hands on his hips and said to me -- "Ms. Captain, you don't have any eyebrows! Where'd they go?" He was genuinely concerned, so I said to him, "Well, they're part of the eyebrow union, so they're on their manditory three month vacation." He got a very concerned look on his face and asked me, "MY eyebrows aren't part of the 'onion' are they?"

~Heather~ said...

Hi Kris!
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last May at the age of 26. I went through 2 surgeries and 6 months of chemo. I had SEVERAL occurances where people would learn about what I was going through and then proceed to tell me about every person they knew of who had cancer and had died of cancer. Not really a great spirit-lifter!
But, I always reminded myself that the only thing these people were trying to do was relate to me. To tell me that, in some way, they understood.
Now, in talking to most of them it was evident that they truly did NOT understand what I was going through just "because their great aunt had died of lung cancer on her 79th birthday." So I just tried to remind myself that these "cancer blabbers" meant well and were only trying to sympathize with me....
Rock on, Kris!

¸.·´¸.·*¨) ¸.·*¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·' * HEATHER *

JoAnnA Pierotti said...

I have to see your film!! Everyone one keeps telling me about it and I know I'll love it.

I am a 2.5 month Breast Cancer Survivor at 50 yrs. old. Meet so many wonderful women during chemo that I am now starting a "fun" women's cancer support group. I thought at one our meetings to talk exactly about this...the stupid things people say about cancer.

My fav. is during chemo, one time I felt well enough to get out of the house. My husband and I went to a local hangout. I was comfortable wearing scarves on my bald head. My husband had shaved his head in support of me. A local guy walked by us and said, "hey guys, what's with this gypsy look?" I just smiled. Weeks later I saw him again and told him why I had the gypsy look. He is still opologizing. I'm still laughing.

My surgeon, who I saw during treatment said the same thing to me. He said, "can't you get a wig?" He also told me that loosing a breast isn't so bad because you really only need one!

Still trying to figure that one out!

Blessings to you! Can't wait to see the film.
And yes, write this book!!

Episcopollyanna said...

Oh geez, I can't believe she said that to you.

I can't count how many people have told me, "My uncle or grandfather or neighbor or so-and-so died of bladder cancer" when I tell them I've had it twice.

Uh, thanks, Captain Bringdown...

Cancer Miss Manners. I'd buy several copies of that book!

Amy said...

I came upon your video and website today after finishing my first week of medical school. Your real, inspirational, no-nonsense, fun, and optimistic message helped remind me that health is all about the person, not what disease they may have. It's such a simple, obvious concept, but we all seem to forget it.
Best Wishes!

Life and Hope said...

My favorite faux pas:
I have von Hippel Lindau, which is a genetic cancer, and people ask me all the time "Well, are the tumors malignant?" As if lack of malignancy is the best thing in the world. I answer, "Yes some are, some aren't. But nothing is benign if it is growing in your brain, metastatic or not."

"Can't they just take the tumor out?" (Well, not when there are dozens of them, not so much.)

Another favorite: "God will not give you more than you can handle" (Wanna bet?) and "God works all things together for the good of those who love Him." (While I believe this is true, I also don't think God gave me cancer and I hate when people flippantly throw this scripture in my face to make me feel good about having cancer. Seriously?)

My favorite was one time when I was up for all my testing and the radiology receptionist looked at my paperwork, looked at me, and say, "Wow. You look really good for as sick as you are."

For the most part, I think people have no clue what to say to people like us so they try to be sympathetic. Others are afraid to talk about (whisper) canser, like it's contagious. Anyhow, I think everyone I know is glad that I have it and they don't!!

Keep positive, girls!! We are surviving!!

rainyday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
notsaving4arainyday said...

they find out I had cancer and suddenly talk to me LOUDER and s-l-o-w-e-r! said...

If you want to blog about me, this is fine. If you want to inform people about my website, this is fine too.

Phin friend said...

Hi "Sis"!

After being bummed out that I found out too late about your film, I was really looking forward to meeting you today at the Elephant Pharmacy in Los Altos. Stopped by on Saturday to scope out the store, and learned that you weren't feeling well and that the signing event had been cancelled. :-(

Bought two copies of your book--one for me and one for a fellow BC sister. We're both so glad to have learned about you and your wonderful outlook. It's contagious--we keep reminding each other that this chemo we're currently undergoing is part of the adventure!!!

I received a lulu of a faux pas during the preliminary consult with my radiation oncologist. I wanted to know what I could do to decrease the chances of recurrence. I started out by saying "After I'm cured in this round..." at which point he interrupted and brusquely said, "You can't say that!" Leaving the consult, I felt the worst that I'd felt since I was diagnosed, and determined to find another radiation oncologist.

Hope you're on the mend real soon, and that we have an opportunity to meet in the future.

Sending loads of love and positive energy your way...


cancer cowgirl xo said...

Gals! You are all hilarious and I have never laughed so hard and felt so bad-but in a good way. I will keep doing this blog from time to time so we can all keep gasping and giggling. You lionesses roar with sunshine and spice and I am so frickin' grateful for you.

mimuna said...

i just thought of another one- when I started internal radiation (brachytherapy) for my cervical cancer, I had to undergo tests to make sure I could withstand the general anesthesia (sp?) I'd undergo ever week for 6 weeks. They tested my heart, my blood pressure, just about everything.

During the EKG, I asked the technician to explain it to me. She ripped the page off and came over and said "this line measures the space between beats, and oh, yours is so good! You have a... You're so healthy....... for a......... a............ well, for like someone with cancer."

lololol-- it was funny- we both laughed. I knew she felt foolish. But later that night, I thought about how good it was to know that my "other systems" were all OK, and that besides my cancer, I was healthy!

Rachel said...

I thought of another (there are so many after 3 long bouts over the last 10 years)...A lady found out that I had had cancer and scrunches up her face and says, "I wonder what kind of chemical you were exposed to." She looked at me like I was an alien!

-Rach from Chicago conference

Christina said...

can't you block that flavinoid dipwad? He is like a bad hemmorid who won't go away....who knows, he may become the faux pas of the day!

Shell said...

Hey brilliant babe! A Cancer Miss Manners would be so PERFECT! The one that always got me in the beginning was when I was telling people at my daughter's school that I had just been diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and they immediately burst into tears! Hey, I'm not dead yet! Keep on keepin on! Shell

w.andringa said...

Oh Joy! What a treat! Here are my favorites:
Well, not soon after my diagnosis when I was in the weeds with shock, I was calmly sharing the news with (select) friends. The response that stunned me the most was "What do you do, take some medicine for that?"
And then there was the curious but well-meaning, "Can you feel it?" (No, I can't)
And then there's the nosy "Whats your prognosis?" (I'm gonna live until I die)
All the others are too complicated to write here, I will have to share those in some other place.
Well, to be fair, we all have such limited experience in life on this planet. Without personal exposure to different situations, how can we empathize in the "correct" way with each situation? I have no idea of what its like to carry on living with a missing appendage, or something that would invite endless gawking and uninvited pity.
I really enjoyed this posting and all the comments... and I love the euphemism "impending dirt nap." Did you make that up yourself?

radioactive girl said...

I wrote a little something about my attitude about death from cancer a few days ago

I think you rock, but have to say that at first I was a bit put off by the title of the documentary. I ended up loving it, but feel like the promos were sort of misleading! Anyway, I can't wait to read the book, and any future books you decide to write. If you need any input from someone with cancer, feel free to email me!

Samantha said...

Your words really brighten my day, Kris. I'm a 30-year-old woman who was diagnosed with eye cancer back in '05. After a stranger saw me with my eye patch on (shortly after being treated for the tumor) he said, "Don't worry! I'm sure you'll be seeing in no time." The truth is I have already lost some vision in one eye and may lose it all in that eye-- Who knows? I also had somebody tell me they could relate to my physical pain and experience because they had their teeth worked on. HUH?! Your blogs remind me to find the humor in life, and I can only hope that when I talk about my own experience I am even half as funny, witty, and articulate as you are! Wishing you all the best-- ~ Samantha

CasRice said...

Hi Samantha and hello Kris...

My name is Carol and I am a 33 year old happy wife and proud mother of 2 boys. I was diagnosed with Choroidal Melanoma (eye cancer) on July 16 and had my eye removed on August 17... this year. My favorite faux pas was actually from an unsuspecting Krispy Kreme delivery man dropping off donuts at the corner Shell station just trying to be friendly. I had been running errands for a coulple of hours and was tired of wearing my damn eyepatch so I took it off planning on keeping my non-eye closed as I strolled in to grab a bag of ice. As I approached the counter I rubbed my non-eye and the poor donut boy asked "Have you got something in your eye?" Poor guy. You see I love to shock people and I really love to be funny about giving up my eye, it helps me. I looked at the man, smiled and said "Actually, I don't have an eye anymore!" He couldn't finish a sentence nor could he escape fast enough. I laughed and told him it was OK, that I was getting a new one in October and that I was fine but he quickly and apologetically disappeared into his donut truck and drove off into the night. Sigh.

My mother scolded me, told me that I could have simply said yes and been done with it but where is the fun in that??

Keep dancing the "Boo Cancer" dance ladies and gentlemen... we are all strong!!

Much Love!

Monarch said...


You are helping me to change my life. I am a recent Uterine/Ovarian cancer (blabbidy blabbidy) SURVIVING and THRIVING and I am so relieved that there is someone like you to give someone like me hope!!!! cancer has just been a little bump, a blip on the screen, and sometimes a crater to the skull but I am enjoying your outlook as FINALLY there is someone who is sarcastic and in your face as me!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU yOU ARE A BLESSING!!!

Take Care of You and all that BIZ,

Robyn said...

Hey Kris,

I have quickly learned about some faux pas that have really gotten annoying.
For example, when I finished Chemo. and was prepping for radiation, I got a lot of, "well, radiation isn't THAT bad" from people. Sure it's not as invasive but it's still some pretty serious stuff!! How do they know anyway?!
The other thing that gets to me is when I finished treatments everyone thinks you're "all better" and life goes on. Yes, life goes on, but as a canSer survivor (a.k.a. "@$$-kicker") we still have a lot to deal with mentally. It will always be a part of us. I think we are much better people for these experiences. We are made that much stronger!!
I hope you visit us in Toronto! I bought your book for myself and then actually bought it to send to a friend who is now also going through treatments! I love it!

Toronto, ON

Susan Carrier said...

I'm loving this thread.

My favorite faux pas took place at a car lot. The salesman asked me if I drove far, and I made the mistake of revealing that my cancer center was just a few blocks away.

He then asked me what kind of cancer I had. "Do you have, like, breast cancer? Or lung? Or colon? Or . . . "

I was afraid he was going to go through all of Grey's Anatomy!


Chocolate Is Life said...

Hi Kris,
I hope you are doing well. I think a manners book is a great idea! People really don't know what to think or say. I think a good thing to point out is that everyone is different concerning how they feel. So maybe the one tip I have is that people should ASK and not assume based on what they think a person should feel! And not be afraid to ask someone with cancer how they feel or how they are dealing with it. I just got diagnosed 7 weeks ago and it has been a whirl wind. I was very uplifted by your documentary as I saw it advertised the week I was diagnosed while admitted into the hospital for the cancer. So I would also like to thank you for being my inspiration from the start! I am suppose to have a surgery soon and I wish everyone would stop thinking that after my surgery I will suddenly be healed and cancer free! That's funny to me. I just look at them like, wow, life is that simple for them isn't it?! It will never be that simple for me again. But I am Super Okay with my life. I have done so many things since this all began that I never would have done otherwise! I am a 34 year old mother of 3 children and I just simply plan on LIVING! I barely missed your Chicago stop...I 48 hrs before my surgery here in my home town got a call that suggested I go up to Chicago for treatment and did just that! Hopefully the dates will work out sometime in the future!

Best Wishes Cancer Sista!
Stay Strong, you are doing a GREAT thing!

bleary1 said...

stupid comments? too many to count! But I think the worst are the daily if not more frequent "how are you feeling?" (with just the right amount of concern thrown in). I swear, one of these days someone is going to slip up and say "aren't you dead yet?". How many times do I have to say I am fine, sometimes I feel like crap, sometimes I don't. Just like life in general. Oh, and my other favorite is "you haven't lost your hair yet?" Gee, I'm really sorry, maybe I should buy a razor?

that's ok, I look at the intention rather than the delivery, and the love and concern that envelops me is truly what keeps me going. That and my cancer posse! I have given out so many badges I had to order more!

Jamie said...

I was diagnosed in March of this year at the age of 34, and i have 3 daughters. my cancer is incurable but indolent, and in early stages.
Here's my faux pas from my oncologist: "well you've got the good kind of cancer" WHAT?!! it's incurable!!!

Oncology Socialworker: in reference to my apprehension on doing a 3rd bone marrow biopsy: "just think of it like childbirth, it's gonna hurt but you'll get thru it. just think of afterward and the relief of knowing the results, either it's clear and you can move on or it's not and you makes plans for treatment" WTF??!!! when was the last time SHE did a bmb?? and since when is thinking of the results and the what if's a relief?? omg... people please!!!

Christopher said...

Kris--Loved your show!

I'm a 30 year old male who was diagnosed with Stage I Lymphoma, Nasal Type (rare). I am all clear right now.

Like you, I have a great--probably too good--sense of humor. I had one guy at work who didn't know I was undergoing chemo see me at work bald all the sudden and ask, "HA--What is this--early onset chemotherapy!?" I laughed and was like, "Uh--YEAH!" He felt so bad.

Another story my dad loved was the first thing I asked the docs before I started treatment--"So can I drink [alcohol] on this??"

Keep it up--you're amazing. And if you can ever catch up to all these--check out my blog at

melthornley said...

My best faux pas was going out to an awards dinner for my sister and I didn't wear my wig - I was only about 3 weeks out of radiation and chemo and the hair was pretty short. The waitress came up behind me and said "what would you like to drink sir"? Then she saw my face and was completely mortified. My brother in law and I laughed very hard! Other good ones include "I thought you lose weight on chemo".