During one of my recent face-to-face support groups, we spent some time discussing insensitive people in our lives. One group member shared that he was recently approached by a co-worker (whom he is not close to). This woman wanted to know his prognosis and any other information that he was willing to share about his cancer. He was surprised and upset by his colleague’s intrusive questions. He said that he felt “put on the spot.”
The group and I validated his feelings and together we talked about possible ways to handle these situations in the future. Several people shared that they have had similar experiences and that they, too, felt uncomfortable. Together the group came up with five answers to give people who ask intrusive/insensitive questions.
- This is private.
- It’s hard for me to share.
- I don’t feel comfortable sharing at this time.
- Thank you for your concern. I’m okay. (even if you’re not). Or…
- Thank you for your concern. If there’s something that you need to be aware of, I will let you know.
Have you ever been approached by a family member, neighbor, colleague or acquaintance with questions about your or your loved one’s diagnosis/prognosis?
Have you experienced someone asking you “how are you?” (in that certain tone)
Does it feel intrusive/nosy/insensitive?
How have you handled these encounters?
I look forward to hearing your experiences, thoughts and feelings.
Stephanie Stern, LCSW-C is an oncology social worker and the moderator of The MetaCancer Foundation’s Mosaic Online Support Community.
The MetaCancer Foundation provides information and resources focused on the unique psychological and emotional aspects of living with metastatic cancer. Mosaic is a free online support service for people living with metastatic cancer and their loved ones.