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Top 10 Snappy Comebacks To Insensitive Breast Cancer Comments

Dealing with Insults, Insensitive Comments, Rude People, and Breast Cancer


Updated February 12, 2009

If you've recently been diagnosed, or are in treatment for breast cancer, you might be feeling somewhat fragile or sensitive on the topic. Even during a time like this, you may get insensitive questions and remarks from friends, family, and strangers. I even got embarrassing questions from women in my support group!

Sometimes, people are asking questions just because they are nervous, worried about their own mortality, or they are being downright thoughtless. At other times, people may blurt out comments or questions, not understanding that they are being insensitive to you. But there are some people that are downright rude, maybe even provoking! You'll have to figure out how to deal with the people and their comments on a case-by-case basis.

Match Your Response To the Blurt
One technique would be to turn on the tears, look right back and say, "I'm sure you don't know how insensitive that remark was." Or if you have great control, you can lock eyes with the offender and let a long silence stretch out between you. This gives you control over the exchange (unless the other person talks compulsively) and allows you time to formulate a reply. Using some humor, and redirecting the conversation with a question is also a good way to take a little revenge and put the offender on the spot!

Here are some ways to make a good comeback when you get hit with a rude comment:

Top 10 Snappy Comebacks To Insensitive Breast Cancer Comments

Well, I guess your sex life is over.
"Jerkville City Limits: Population: You"
(from 5 Lessons Breast Cancer Didn't Teach Me)

That's a wig? Does that mean you're BALD now?
This IS my own hair! I bought and paid for it myself! And is that your new nose?

Optional –- if you're having a really bad day –- whip off the wig and say,
"Yes it IS a wig –- would YOU like to try it on?"

Which breast did you lose? (asked while doing a visual comparison)
It's the one on the same side of the brain that you lost.

It's just a breast –- you can get a new one built that's even better than the original!
I guess so –- but where are you going to get a personality transplant? It will be hard to find the same size ego as your original model.

Your cancer is ruining my life.
Yes, but I'm still a nice person!

I had another friend (relative, coworker) with breast cancer and they died recently.
Thanks, I feel a lot better now. I'll bet you do, too!

You're lucky –- you could have been hit by a bus.
Really? I'd rather have won the lottery.

How long do you have to live?
The answer is given on a need to know basis -- and you don't need to know.

So did you get it because you (choose one): smoked, drank, avoided exercise, didn't breastfeed, ate junk food, watched lots of television?
I got it because I was breathing and because I had breast tissue. Have you done your breast self-exam lately?

Oh, everybody gets that these days –- where did you get breast cancer?
I got it on sale at Walmart!

Head Off Potential Comments and Questions
If you don't feel up to handling rude comments, you could do a pre-emptive strike, and wear a T-shirt with this printed on the front:

  • Yes, I have breast cancer.
  • Yes, it sucks.
  • No, it's not contagious.
  • I could use a hug now, thanks!
What has your experience been with rude comments? What zingers have you used? Speak up on this topic in the Breast Cancer Forum.
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