At Least It's Not...

At Least It's Not...

I’ve had many conversations with people that I’m ‘acquainted’ with or that I just met, and even some close friends. One saying that seems to frequently be said is, “At least it’s not cancer.”

Yeah, you’re very right. At least it isn’t cancer. Thank you for pointing that out. However, when you say that, to me it feels like you are trying to discredit what I’m going through. I’m not saying that what they stated is false. But Cancer & MS are two different things.

First of all, I’m in NO WAY discrediting what people go through that have cancer, or any other chronic illness. But I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to compare illnesses that are on two different levels. How are they different you ask? Well for one, MS is a life long illness. Yes, cancer kills people. The main thing they have in common is there is no cure.

People with MS are living day in and day out with this disease. Not knowing when there will be a cure, not knowing if we will go in to a flare soon. Not knowing if we will be able to function the next day. This continues on and on and on, for years. With this daily struggle, it can and has brought on depression. I feel like there is more awareness about Cancer, obviously, so it’s easy to compare Cancer to other illnesses. Cancer is just horrible and we need a cure, period.

Feeling invalidated

Now, to share how I feel about this comparison, at times, here is a bit of explanation. If you were suffering would you want the suffering to be prolonged for the rest of your life, without shortening your life expectancy? Or would you want it to end quicker than that? I’m sorry if that’s a bit blunt, but that’s how I feel at times when I have been told, “At least it’s not cancer”, over and over again in a short period of time.

For instance, when I was told, “At least it’s not Cancer,” I felt like I shouldn’t complain about anything, ever. Because, at least I don’t have cancer, right? I shut down in a sense. I wouldn’t even tell my husband what was wrong or how I was feeling. What did I have to complain about, right?

When people try to say, "well, at least you don’t have such and such," it feels like they aren’t even taking in to consideration what I’m going through. They can’t and won’t understand what I’m going through until they have to go through it themselves.

You don’t get it till you get it

Let me also clarify that I’m not implying that every person that says these types of things is doing it with any negative intentions, or purposefully trying to be rude and snub what we’re going through as nothing. I’m just trying to share my experience with the situation and how it made and still makes me feel.

A big clarification that EVERYONE needs to know is there is NO COMPETITION when it comes to an illness. We’re all suffering from something, we’re all coping with it, and we’re all hoping to get better. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what MS was. I was just so relieved it wasn’t anything ‘serious’ like a tumor or cancer. Ironic right? Needless to say it’s been a learning experience.

I really feel like there isn’t enough awareness out there on certain illnesses and that’s why these statements are made. Compare it to what you know.

Please don't try to compare

So what’s the purpose of this article aka rant? For those that try to compare are illness to something else, as horrible as cancer, please do NOT. Nothing good can come out of it. You don’t know what we’re going through inside of our head.

I try to keep the following in my mind whenever I’m interacting with people on a daily basis: You never know what someone is going through. You never know their whole story. Do not make quick judgments on a person that is being difficult, or anti-social, or that you find odd. He or she could have just gotten horrible news recently. They could be suffering with emotional challenges. Or they could have an invisible illness. What you see isn’t always what you get.

By making quick remarks without thinking it through, you could be causing more damage than you could possibly even comprehend.

I think that’s enough for now, I just really felt like I needed to share my experience on this topic, because I tend to have this happen to me in ‘spurts’.


Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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