This is a real quick and practical piece of advise for you guys; nail a spiel.
Prepare and rehearse a short synopsis of your cancer treatment and outcome that you can reel off when someone asks about it.
To give a cohesive answer that does not trigger an emotional response. Just saying the word cancer still makes me feel weird, but if you have a prepared response, your brain thinks of it sort of like an exam answer you’ve revised so much you’re ready to just pour it out and not think too consciously about it.
Why do I advise this? I used to be a flustered mess when people would ask me ‘what happened to my leg’ (my limp and scars are usually what people pick up on). This would trigger an emotional, panicked response which would affect my mood dramatically. Sometimes I would laugh straight after, then think about it every minute until I was home, and physically burst into tears as soon as I was alone.
This response occurred because I’d just be going about my day trying to live as normally as I could, and suddenly someone would ask about this ‘other side’ of my life that I didn’t talk about. Now that I’ve accepted remission as part of my identity, I feel much more confident in talking about it, but still use my spiel. It’s just easy and protects you from too much emotional exposure.
So, my advice of the day is to write out (on notes is good so you can edit/it feels like you’re writing a text lol) a breakdown of your treatment and outcomes to answer people’s question without affecting your mood. Only write things you feel comfortable sharing – and have a few follow up responses prepared for people who ask further questions.
For reference, here’s mine:
‘I had a knee replacement as part of my treatment for bone cancer when I was a child.’
It answers the question without giving too much away.
(If there’s a follow up question)
I’ve been in cancer remission for 13 years now, so my legs quite old – hence the limp!
That’s it! That’s all I say. I know my treatment is reasonably uncomplicated compared to some so yours might be a bit longer than just one sentence.