All too often when I or someone else in the Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) community post about a struggle or a challenging experience, the response is “You got this.” That comment is often accompanied by an emoji of a flexed bicep, likely meant to communicate strength or that the basis for the words comment is that you are “strong.” I’ve seen this comment from others in the MBC Community at times as well as from healthy people and it just gets to me.
What the heck does this comment mean??
If I’m being generous and have the ability to take a breath and two steps back, I think the intent behind the comment is expressing that whatever the issues or item that was posted about can be dealt with and that the person expressing concern about the struggle can handle it. In a generous mood, I suppose this sort of comment can be construed as communicating a positive or confidence in you, cheering or rooting you on.
If I’m not so generous (and I usually end up in this camp), the comment seriously devalues and minimizes the experience of the person posting.
How would anyone know if the other person is able to handle the thing they are posting about?
How would anyone really know what is going on and all that the experiences affects/entails?
Why in the world would someone feel as though they can randomly say this!?
Rather than acknowledging the struggle, listening to the things that are hard, and offering to be with the person struggling in the mess, a quick comment to make the commenter feel better doesn’t help the person in the midst of the struggle. It’s dismissive and it doesn’t help.
Further, since MBC is terminal, that is the very definition of something that is out of our control and something we can’t “handle.” None of us can. No matter how strong or courageous or capable or organized or young or old or whatever, eventually the malignant cells with no brakes will overwhelm our bodies and kill us.
The next time someone in the MBC community or otherwise talks/posts/writes/tweets/whatever talks about a struggle and how hard their life or a situation really is, don’t respond with “You’ve got this” or with any emoji demonstrating physical strength. Just don’t.
Here are some other things you could respond with:
- I’m so sorry.
- Can I rub your feet?
- Can I send you a gift card for a pedicare/manicure/massage/food?
- I hear you. How can I help?
- Do you need to talk/vent/cry?
- Sending a hug.
- Holding space for you — this is a safe space to vent!
- I love you.
- I see you and I see how hard you are struggling.
Or any variation on these themes. When we in the MBC Community post publicly about our struggles, demonstrate how hard we have to try to live “normally” or otherwise give you a glimpse in our world, understand how hard it is to be vulnerable; understand that you have no idea what really goes on behind the scenes, and don’t dismiss that offering. Sit with it, look at it carefully, and then provide support.
Isn’t that what all need?