The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

Healing Words that Hurt

by Mia Gonzales JacksonPatient/SurvivorOctober 23, 2023View more posts from Mia Gonzales Jackson

In some wars, siblings fight each other

With cancer, imposed means fight more within the body—an external-internal “battle” and for me, one I did not incite

As for a journey—I navigate different terrains of treatments and prospects, allergies and side effects that require not so much bravery as (half) indifferent perseverance

because my road is one that highlights the grit of being the once-so-small percent of such and such instance


All that is the fine print which muddles in my mind as I hear



are so strong.”


will fight this.”


are capable.”


I’m not sure there is any right or wrong way to say things because everything about experience



to the individual embarking on their own journey. Everyone has their own opinions and preferences about what to hear and what to say and how to listen. Perhaps

the fact that these ideas about expression shift over time is a complicated inconvenience?



am not offended by your

offering to open the door or saying you can empathize or relate.

Sure, you can take any anti-nausea medicine without thinkin’ and

find it easy to look away when needles pierce your skin willingly.

But I know you mean well and it’s nice to know someone cares enough to not snicker or

sit in awkward silence as I forget how pessimistic I am when speaking to others.


I am sure I don’t feel strong or brave or lucky. I’m not fighting much but my own mind because being capable of greatness, improvement, and self-sufficiency is more of a burden than an energizing force.

I am

trying to be thankful because things could be worse, but it is difficult when I wish for only that restful peace of knowing all pain

is forever over.

Please don’t call that number on my behalf—

you know I can never remember the shorthand? 198 or 998 or whatever it is because for me it’s oddly easier to recall

one eight hundred two seven three eight two five five

Yes it is a blessing to be alive…I believe it more often than I feel it but

I notice that sometimes,

small signs of kindness and goodwill

are the only sense of hope I see and hold


And yet, words hurt.

They can cut and bruise the body in irrevocable ways

whether intended or uttered passively or said with confident regard which only

lands ungracefully

upon open wounds


As an individual with a noncancerous tumor

that merely threatens my sight

I might be sly to not mention my own depression and confusion

which leaves me weak in survivors’ guilt and lost in an overwhelming sense of purposelessness—


I am part of this unlucky, even undeserving, club but above all things I wish for the ultimate piece of heaven and lack of battles I would love

to choose to not fight.

I have cancer that won’t kill me—What an insult of reality

as though I am only meant to be beaten until I am forced to hobble when I walk and

bobble between breathing air and coughing invisible water only to be told

I am capable—more than able—to fight with God-given strength.


You are so strong. You will fight this. You are capable.

It hurts to hear sometimes. Otherwise, it’s comforting.

It seems that I’ve come to terms with the fact that if I don’t hear it

I’ll forget to tell myself and in turn lose sight of the hope this well-meaning sentiment provides.


Perhaps part of healing

is considering the origin of


offensive words?


I believe that

That healing is what matters.

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