Annoyed at the phrase "you don't look sick"

I have been dealing with cancer for the past 3 years and I have had NHL twice and recently HL. My 40yr old aunt died after 6yrs of brain cancer and it was painful to watch her body start to fail her so I don't really post photos or let people I don't know real well see me because I don't wan't to be seen and known that way. With that said I have started to get upset when people tell me I don't look sick. It's like they don't think I'm suffering or that my life is in danger because I don't look like shit. I'm thinking someone needs to create a what not to say to a young adult with cancer. I have also started to resent the phrase "you're young you will beat this." After a certain point even if I do beat it I have to deal with the fact that my body and my life will never be the same. My health is more at risk and I have to deal with an uncertain future.


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  • laurylaury Community Member
    I once had someone say, "Hey, you don't look sick" to me. I was not in a good state of mind at that specific moment & I responded, "Hey, you don't look stupid, either." 

    Not one of my more stellar moments. 
  • I get this comment a good bit as well. I know they mean well, but I really just think that people don't know what to say or how to react. I am 3 months post surgery for Stage II tongue cancer. The surgery was able to get all of the cancer cells, but I still have pre-cancerous cells and it was HPV induced so my doctors say I am now genetically predisposed to get all cancers. While I am healthy and generally feel good (still have plenty of surgery healing left) I am also getting frustrated that everyone (except my husband) is acting like it is all over and done with. It is almost worse because I am young and healthy, it seems like I have a longer future filled with uncertainties and concerns. I don't want people to treat me different, but I also don't want everyone blatantly ignoring the fact that I have issues (it's only been a few months for me). I am just trying my hardest to focus on the positive and be happy that I can at least hope for a long future :)
  • I just commented but my post did not show up?
  • I can't stand people telling me, "but you don't look sick.." the after effects of cancer are luckily and unluckily invisible. I wish they were visible so people would believe me, but I'm glad their invisible so I'm not judged. My days and weeks are still filled with doctor appointments that don't ever end. The side effects from the medications are more debilitating than the problem you are treating itself. I have pain levels that sky rocket every single day to the point where it is hard to even walk anymore. Even though I am living proof. .....I, myself, feel like a side effect from cancer. I have new fears everyday and bring questions to my doctor appointments pages long like a kids' list to santa claus. I am seven years cancer free.... but NOWHERE NEAR CLOSER TO FREE.
  • I always got the phrase "You look amazing!!!" when I was on chemo and it was always in such a surprised tone, as if they couldn't believe that I looked human or something. Many times I wanted to ask people what I was supposed to look like so they wouldn't be so dumbfounded every time they saw me

  • I hate it when people that had nothing to do with you just decided that you are going to die soon even though my cancer is cureable
  • I am frustrated with this as well. I am only on oral chemo everyday, but still they act like you can't have cancer if you don't look sick.
  • Chelsea123Chelsea123 Community Member
    edited February 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and I totally understand what you all are talking about.  the phrases: You look amazing, you don't even look sick, but you have the best brain tumor you could get, you can get through this you are young, but you are only 23... etc.  

    @Cassandra, technically I don't even have cancer, I just have a very rare brain tumor that they can't surgically remove, so If I want a support group I have to go to cancer support groups because they are the only ones that understand that I am living with a brain tumor and I have had two brain surgeries and I'm emotionally stuck. As my tumor grows I will eventually need radiation and if they can't get rid of it with radiation, then I need chemo. 

    I totally get where you are coming from about the "cancer" stigma.  There is so much that could go on with someone, people need to be more compassionate.