Updated: Nov 3, 2018
What do you say when someone tells you that he/she has cancer.
It was one of those days. I got up in the morning and had a lot to do. I was trying to decide whether I should go to yoga or work on my website. I set a deadline for myself to launch my new website by November 1 which was only three days away. Reluctantly, I made myself go because I didn’t want to regret it later. As we were getting started, a woman with a headband walked in like the one that a lot of cancer patients wear. I recognized her face. She was my former neighbor. When I first moved to Davis in 2006, I lived in a nice quiet neighborhood in West Davis. She was the lady who, with her family, lived couple of houses down from us. She had two boys similar in age to my girls. We never really became friends but were acquaintances.
I had moved out of West Davis about three years ago and hadn't seen her since until recently. I ran in to her at one of the yoga classes. We said “hi” and everything had seemed normal at the time. That was only few months ago. This time, she had no hair and was wearing a headband and looked frail. I said “hi” to her as she laid her mat next to mine. After we finished yoga, we chatted a little bit about the kids. Then, as I had suspected, she told me she had breast cancer and was going through treatment. At that moment, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to say something, say something that will be helpful but all I could say was “I’m sorry, you must be going through a lot”.
Over the years, I had known some people that had cancer and died including, most recently, my mother-in-law, who had passed away this year just four days after Mother’s Day. She too had cancer, Multiple Myeloma, but for some reason, this was different. I didn’t know this lady very well, but she was somebody I knew, who had kids like I did. She was also a runner like me. She had always been thin and looked healthy. So, when she told me that she had cancer, it hit me like it never hit me before. Maybe it was because she was my age and we had similar lives. Whatever it was, it felt like it was happening to me and my heart went out to her. I wanted so badly to say something to be supportive, but I was lost in words.