What do you say when someone asks you how you're doing? What's the correct way to respond? Do they really want to know or is this just a rhetorical question?
Most of us do this all the time. We pass colleagues in the hallway, we run into friends at the store, we see acquaintances at a meeting. It's just natural. We say, "How are you?"
But since I've been in treatment for cancer, I'm never quite sure how I should respond to this question. Do they really want to know or is this just polite chit chat?
Do they want me to tell them how I'm truly feeling -- that my latest medicine makes my legs hurt, that my feet ache and that I'm so very tired? Are they actually interested in the fact that my lips are chapped and that my skin feels stretched across my face? Here's something to think about. Do they even know that I've been in treatment for brain cancer for almost two years? I never know the answer to that one. And when I'm talking to someone who I haven't seen for a long while, I wonder if they even know what happened to me. Should I tell them or just let it go?
Sometimes I find myself in the middle of telling this very old story that I'm not certain I've already told, or if an old friend already heard it through the grapevine. But, once I get going, I feel obliged to finish the tale.
People are kind, friends are shocked if they didn't already know about my brain cancer, but I'm always left feeling awkward. Did I say too much? Did they really want to know how I'm feeling today or were they just making conversation?
I haven't come to a conclusion about my dilemma. Occasionally, I let it go. Often, I say more than I should. What do you think? Do you really want to know or are you just being nice?
But just so you know, I am two years out from my diagnosis and surgery. What I should say is that I'm a survivor -- a very grateful survivor.