She Really Said That by Kimberly Lechleitner Dafforn

Project Occupy Pinktober: Throughout the month of October 2014, I am bringing guest posts from people who have been touched by metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer is not pink and fluffy; it is a killer disease. This is not about saving breasts; it’s about saving lives. Thirty percent of everyone who gets breast cancer will develop metastasis. There is no cure. The goal of treatment is merely to prolong life and reduce suffering. We deserve better. Please like and share these posts to spread the word. Thank you, Knot Telling

ShockedGirlYesterday, someone told me that I don’t have cancer. In her opinion, I only have a small back problem. Why does she think this? Because I have not had chemo, hair loss, weight loss or a mastectomy. She never saw me during the 5 months I was off work and wheelchair bound due to the cancer in my spine. So in her eyes, I don’t have cancer. She said this to me with a lot of anger

I should be fuming mad at her for this. I should have told her that she knows nothing about living with stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer. I should have asked her if she needed a copy of my pathology report from the oncologist’s office. I should have gathered together information about cancer and placed it on her desk. I should have gone to the boss and told them how she was bullying me.

But I did not do that. I was hurt, but so was she. You see, her sister has recently been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer that is wedged between her heart and lung. Her sister’s prognosis is not very good. Her sister has had chemo and is starting to lose her hair. So she sees her sister’s pain as what cancer is all about. Right now she sees her sister not eating much and losing weight. She sees her sister losing her hair. She sees her sister dying…

And she sees me LIVING…

She is angry. Not because I am living, but because her sister is dying. She is angry because she hopes her sister could live with the disease as long as I have lived with mine. She is angry because she doesn’t think I will die from this disease because my outside shell doesn’t show signs of the disease. Yet her sister is struggling with the side effects of chemo. She is angry because there are so many unknowns.

Should she have said this to me? Probably not. But she needed to vent. And I listened and told her I understand. I can see where she is coming from. It is similar to those of us that live longer than expected asking ourselves “Why have I lived while my friends have died?” It is inexplicable.

Cancer brings out the worst in some people and the best in others so I won’t dwell on her anger. I will offer her my prayers because she needs them right now. And I will continue to educate people on the many facets of cancer.

About Kimberly: “I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on December 30, 2006 at the age of 38. I am here to tell you that there is hope because every day I live is another day for research towards another treatment or even a cure.”

Image copyright: paffy / 123RF Stock Photo

You may also like...

10 Responses

  1. Susanne says:

    You handled that with far more grace than I would have. Kudos to you. I’ll continue to be angry, though, that anyone can and does think that we’re faking it.

  2. Kathi says:

    People often say foolish, hurtful things to those of us who’ve had cancer of any stage, out of fear, I think. And miss a chance to connect rather than antagonize. You have a kind heart, Kimberly, for understanding why this woman spoke as she did, the old ‘you don’t look sick’ business. I hope you live long enough for there to be a much better treatment for your metastatic cancer, one that will sending it packing for good.

  3. I read this yesterday. (BTW – FOUND). What a wonderful woman (Kimberly, that is). Being a cancer survivor myself – I have heard some of those stupid comments. At the time, they angered me. Now – I feel sad for the people who made those comments. I keep praying for you – to live as long as you want to and can, and for those sad people – to be gifted with a heart and brains. XO!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Kimberley, thank you for allowing us to see your capacity for loving kindness, forgiveness and compassion.

    Cancer has brought out this bestness in you – compassion – the ability to suffer with another, your co-worker in distress over her sister’s suffering.

    You turned the tide of anger and blame into healing.

    Kimberley, may you continue to live in kindness, forgiveness and compassion.

    May you LIVE!

    warm wishes, Stephanie

  5. Jody Schoger says:


    Thank you for a beautiful post and revealing story about living with MBC.

    Your compassion and wisdom are an example for all of us. In that moment you stepped out of your anger and into a greater truth.

    I’m so glad you wrote this. Hugs,

  6. Hi Kimberly,
    How you handled this whole situation says a lot about you – and all of it is good. Still, that doesn’t excuse insensitive and ill-informed remarks, but… Thank you for writing about something that sometimes people just can’t grasp – that you can be sick while looking well. I think Knot even wrote a post with that title, or something similar. Thank you, Telling Knots, for sharing Kimberly’s important story with us. Hugs to you both.

  7. Maxine D says:

    Oh Kimberly – I gasped at your co-workers comment, and all but cried at you response, and why. So very gracious….
    My DH lives with an ‘invisible’ disease and gets ‘looks’ when we use assessable parking and the like, and I am nowhere near as gracious in my thoughts as you are.
    Thank you for sharing

  8. Judy says:

    How do I make my 94 year old mother who needs help with her own health that I don’t always feel “up” and somedays can’t help her? My only sibling (who, by the way, has always been the “favorite” child) lives out of state and is no help at all. Mom can afford to hire help but won’t. She says “I prefer having my daughter with me because she can remember what I don’t hear” Boy, she won’t believe about my chemo fog. She believes that since I am younger than her, I should feel better and can take care of her. Like a lot of older people she feels the world should wait on her and I’m just not always up to doing it.

    Sorry for this explosion of emotion, but yesterday was a not so good day for me and she demanded a lot more than I could give. How do I make her understand that just because active treatment is over (thank heavens) a lot of the time I don’t have it in me to help her?

    Thanks for listening.


  9. You handled that situation beautifully. No two people experience cancer the same. God Bless you.

  10. dear Kimberly,

    such a beautiful and inspiring post. you give us a picture of what humanity is capable of with your generous and compassionate forgiveness. the world need so much more of those attributes, and by sharing your story you have, in the most loving manner, helped us to be more mindful of what fear and anger and the unknowns of having a cancer diagnosis can elicit. you made a conscious choice to be a presence for someone who was hurting, all the while you were probably reeling from her remark. I send you my thanks, my admiration and hold you up into the brightest light of hope for a long and happy life. this world needs you, dear Kimberly!

    much love,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: