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To Say or Not to Say

by Alison Timmons


‘You must be relieved to finally know the diagnosis. Now at least you know what to fight.'

‘If you are going to get cancer this is the best one to get.' (Surgeon – woohoo I won the cancer lottery)

‘At least you are not going to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to pee.' (Male doctor).

‘You must be worried you're going to die.' (Male doctor).

‘Someone told me that having the operation you had last year might make cancer grow.' (‘Friend').

‘You shouldn't feel guilty because...' (Chaplain at a cancer center - I didn't until then!)

‘Are you going to need this nipple again?'

‘The wire is blunting my scalpel'

‘I worry about my own health because...'

‘My husband would be gone in a heartbeat if I lost a breast'

‘I've heard that shock can bring on cancer. I wonder if your Mother's death...'

‘At least your cancer can be cut off' (Chaplain)


‘We're all worried about you Mrs. T'

‘Here's food – I'll bring more next week.'

‘We have a driving pool to take you to your treatments. I'll be picking you up at...'

‘This really helped me ...'

‘These websites (or any resources) are really helpful.'

‘Thank God you mother isn't alive. This would have killed her' (or anything else that's funny, even inadvertently).


‘I know you can beat this.'

‘I love you.'

Alison Timmons is a one-year breast cancer survivor, and works as an English instructor at Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. She is originally from Britain, but has lived in America for almost 28 years.