This week has been a banner week for strangers telling me what I did wrong during Donna’s cancer treatment.
Before I go any further, though, let me preface this entire post with the very real fact that Mary Tyler Dad and I have no regrets about the choices we made. Got that? NO REGRETS. That is one of the few blessings we have had bestowed on us in Cancerville.
By publishing Donna’s Cancer Story on Huffington Post this year, I had hoped to reach a whole new audience and expose them to the harsh realities of pediatric cancer. Every indication is that it is working. And again, similar to last year, is the awkward reality that new readers are not immediately aware of Donna’s death. Is it my responsibility to break that news? I’ve opted not to, thinking that anyone with any curiosity would visit Mr. Google to meet all their curiosity needs.
Oddly, not everyone thinks the way I do. Yesterday I received a private message that went a little something like this:
This will sound like an attack, but I promise it is not. I heard you mention feeding her [Donna] McDonalds for breakfast and it is what made me think of what I am about to tell you. The food we put into our bodies can be the best forms of medicine or the slowest forms of poison. McDonalds is toxic. My young boys actually broke out in a rash from eating there and as far as we know they have no known allergies. I am by no means a doctor and I would strongly advise you to still listen to your doctor, but it is worth looking into, right? I think it could really save your daughter’s life. Please feel free to ask me for more information if you are interested.
Sigh. Where do I even begin? It’s pretty much a given that when someone starts out an exchange with the words, “This will sound like an attack, but I promise it is not,” you’re about to be attacked. Prepare for battle. I believe this individual was not acting maliciously in any way, shape, or form. I also believe, knowing that said individual was under the impression that my girl was still alive, that telling me that McDonald’s was toxic poison was crossing the proverbial line.
Trust me when I say that Cancer Parents know from toxic poison. Chemotherapy is toxic poison. We know this because it comes in industrial grade plastic, is handled with RNs wearing blue gloves (and there are always two RNs present for chemo administration), and is thrown out in bright red biohazard bins that you learn not to go near.
Admittedly, McDonald’s is crap masquerading as nutrition. We all know that, right? Yes, we can all agree that it is not best for our bodies. Damn you, delicious chemicals (shaking fist in air for greater effect)!
But, honestly, believing, as this person did, that Donna was still alive, was it really necessary to personally message me with the newsflash that McDonald’s was not the healthy diet my daughter needed? I think not. Was it really necessary to “strongly advise me” to still listen to our doctor, as if a stranger’s note on Facebook would vastly alter the course of our daughter’s cancer treatment? And was it really necessary to speculate on what could and could not save my daughter’s life, three years after her death? That a side of McDonald’s french fries two days after brain surgery would be the tipping point between life and death?
I just sigh and shake my head at the stupidity.
When I posted this on Facebook, which is where all daily frustrations land these days, there was a thread 260 comments long, bashing the unthinking soul who dared question my nutrition choices. It seems I am not alone in getting worked up over some silly nonsense posed by a stranger. Sure, there was the occasional voice of support confirming that McDonald’s is indeed unhealthy fare, but pretty much universally, folks agreed the well intentioned stranger should have kept their hands off the keyboard and their mouth closed.
Tomorrow I will explore another exchange with a stranger about Donna’s cancer treatment. In September, I am like a freaking magnet for this stuff. That tete a tete, though, is a little more nuanced, a little more interesting. Stay tuned.