- Question from Karen: I had surgery on the 13th of May and I'm back at work, feeling over-tired, and I don't want to answer people's questions on how I feel all the time. How do I cope?
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
It's interesting that people around us take tremendous liberties when a person has been diagnosed with an illness. It's important to remember that you are in control of your life as much now as you were before and therefore you are going to discuss what you want to discuss. You will answer the questions that you want to answer and reject those that you don't want to answer.
As I mentioned earlier, you have to come up with words that are appropriate for you, but you have to be prepared for people to ask you inappropriate questions. There are several answers that come to mind such as, "Thank you very much, but I prefer not to talk about this right now." Another answer is, "This takes up a lot of my time and I'd like to spend the time hearing about what you are doing." Whatever way you can stop people, you have to stop them. You are in charge of what you want to talk about. Going to work is helpful because it provides a distraction, but you have to take control. However you want to get at it, you need to maintain control over the situation. Talk about it freely if you want, but if not, change the conversation.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
You are entitled to your privacy at home and at the workplace and these people, as well-intentioned as they may be, will usually take their cue from you. So again, if you thank them for their concern and say that this feels like a private matter to you and that you'd like to get back to work, which is why you are there, then they will usually (but not always) leave you alone.
Editor's Note: See Breastcancer.org's section on Breast Cancer and Your Job for more information.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Dealing With Breast Cancer Fears featured Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about aspects of breast cancer that cause concern.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2002.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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