I have been sitting on this a couple of days and I still feel the same, so it’s time to talk about a breast cancer mean girl.
I must preface this tale with what led up to it.
I used to participate more in one in a particular breast cancer group but a lot of these groups have devolved for lack of a better description. As another friend and survivor said to me people seem to want virtual hugs and phony prayers more than they wanted actual helpful info. And some of what I see posted I just can’t deal with for different reasons, sometimes just gobsmacked.
I had two experiences recently which gave me pause. The first was a woman who is a survivor, proceeding on her journey post surgery who is also single. Peppered me via private message on social media with questions of sex life after breast cancer and other things that were very personal to talk about with a stranger and time consuming. But I took the time because people took the time for me. But then I see this woman crowdsourcing in a group after I gave her lots of information and places to seek information – including her own care team which is something I don’t understand about how women will crowdsource about things as important as breast cancer and treatment and they DON’T go to their care team, the medical professionals caring for them! People wonder why their doctors aren’t helping them? What is it they don’t understand that they have to actually talk to their doctors about what’s going on especially in their heads through this process?
I also think that these groups even if they are offering support have to be careful they are not crossing the line and giving pseudo-medical advice because a lot of them do. I just feel like every case of breast cancer is truly individualistic, so is the treatment. People can share their experiences, but they should correctly encourage people to go back to their own doctors and nurses and even therapists.
So the next thing that occurred is a woman who rolled up with this bold statement: that she had to get a complete hysterectomy two weeks after starting Tamoxifen. Add a minimum I found that to be an irresponsible statement, going past that wondering how it’s even medically possible? Two weeks into a drug you take for years and your body is barely starting to process it. And yes, there are things that happen like people have allergic reactions to the drug, or in my case I had an allergic reaction to some of the binders and fillers and what not in one form of the generic. Although the drug itself is the same what holds it together can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
So anyway, I did tell this woman to get a grip and go back to her care team and if she was uncomfortable about being told she had to have a complete hysterectomy, or to find a second medical opinion. However I also said that two weeks into a use of a drug you stay on for years isn’t going to cause you to have to have a complete hysterectomy, there must be other things going on. The only reason I know that is because I did have to have a complete hysterectomy two years after my breast cancer surgery and two years into Tamoxifen. And with me there totally was a whole medical history. From the time I was a teenager I was growing little uterine tumors, ovarian cysts, fibroids, etc. that’s why I knew before my 21st birthday I would probably never be able to bear my own children. By that time I had so much scarring and everything else.
Two years after breast cancer treatment, surgery, and two years into Tamoxifen technically I was in menopause. But my body being my body started growing these things again. And that’s why I had to have a complete hysterectomy. Because what I was growing wasn’t just staying like a cyst or benign tumor or a fibroid, it was growing differently and septating, so had I not done that I probably would have popped ovarian or uterine cancer without a doubt —- not just my opinion, but medical opinion. They did pathology on everything they removed for me, and it was all cancer free at that point thank the good Lord. But I do not regret at all the decision I came to with the help of my care team to do that. And I am not less of a woman because I got spayed.
Although I talked about having to get a hysterectomy at that time I didn’t go crowdsourcing or off on a tangent of essentially facts not in evidence. And I listened to people at the time who told me not to go off on tangents or anything else, but to stay calm and centered because that was the best way to get through it. People also said to me yeah you’re going to have the occasional bad day but take it day by day. I was also told to make sure my care team knew what I was thinking and feeling even if I felt it was silly.
Well for basically telling this woman that I thought she needed more help and wasn’t processing things well, I was pounced on by other women. It wasn’t warm and fuzzy enough, apparently. And that was fine as those women are entitled to their opinions , but what happened next wasn’t fine.
What happened next is a woman that I avoid in the real world because she’s a mean and crass and snarly tough bitch, has become a part of this group. I don’t know when, I hadn’t noticed her before. But up she popped in a full-on attack at me. The reason she did that was simple: she doesn’t like me in the real world. And I have blocked her everywhere I can on social media, and I go out of my way to just avoid her because she has attacked me before. She is one of those women that no matter what the topic is she knows better than everyone else.
I said to this woman, that although nobody else knew the backstory I know full well the only reason she was commenting and coming after me is because she doesn’t like me. And I said that isn’t really acceptable anywhere, let alone a breast cancer group. And then I blocked her again, because apparently somewhere along the line something must’ve been undone and she was no longer blocked to me. Literally this woman will go on full attack mode every time she encounters me. She is one of those whom I feel dislikes people who aren’t like her. She’s not someone I would ever want to be like and would never trust as a friend, so she is the kind of person I avoid.
For this exchange, I did go to the group administrator, which I’ve rarely done before in all the years I’ve been part of it. But I wanted to let her know that this person was attacking me not necessarily for my opinion in a breast cancer group, but because she didn’t like me out there in the real world, and that to be honest she had done this before. The reaction I got in return was kind of a blame the victim scenario. I should’ve said what I said to the woman with the Tamoxifen issues in a kinder, gentler manner. Sorry not sorry, that doesn’t address how this woman attacked me. So I thanked her for her time, apologized for bothering her, and I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now.
Yesterday I ran into someone who told me a tale of this same woman who attacked me verbally in a breast cancer group. Not to get into the nitty-gritty but apparently I’m not imagining things this is the way that person behaves and they were pretty mean to somebody else who is a breast cancer survivor.
Of course the other thing I found amusing or the tales of this person going to retreats and what not to find their inner Zen. Well I think her inner Zen is lost and they should get a refund. I don’t do menopausal mean girls in general, and certainly not in breast cancer groups.
What bothers me the most however, is this woman violated a decade old safe space for me. Sadly, although I might stay, I won’t be feeling like it’s a safe space for me to share in. It puts me back to my initial issues with support groups when I began this journey. There will always be these women who feel they have to dominate, and it’s not a contest. And I get there should be an accent on positive versus negative because this is not necessarily an uncomplicated journey, but I also think we have to be honest and acknowledge it’s not all fuzzy bunnies and hugs. And I really resent women who are bullies going along under the guise of fake caring.
It could be I have reached the end of the road with support groups like this, but I don’t know. Only time will tell. Life is a journey and we can only do our best and speak our truth.