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I’d Rather Have Cancer Than Diabetes

File Under:  Someone Actually Said That to Me


Welcome to my first installment of “Someone Actually Said That to Me.”  I’m sure as a person with diabetes, no matter what type, you’ve heard some bone-head comments.  Please take a moment to share what someone said to you in the comment section.

I was diagnosed with diabetes at a low-income clinic that primarily served the Mexican community in the early 1990’s.  I was an innocent youngster in my early 20’s.  The nurse practitioner told me he suspected diabetes.  I laughed it off.  No way.  I was too young.

The lab test confirmed the diagnosis and I remember my cheeks  and chin started to tingle as it sank in.  He told me to go down the hall to see the nurse and she would give me a “diabetes sheet.”

There were no cell phones back then and I felt very alone and disconnected walking down the hall in zombie mode while the enormity of it all sank in.  I entered the nurse’s small room and sat down at her desk.  She had her back to me and was going through papers.  It has been over 20 years and I still remember waiting and pulling at the threads on my pink sweater.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Was I going to die?  Would I have to poke myself?  Did I have to sign up to some sort of diabetes national register?

She turned around holding the sheet in her fingers like it was a dirty tissue.  She looked deep into my eyes and with deep anguish said, “I’m so sorry mejita.  I would rather have cancer than diabetes.”

It was like a bat was swung into my stomach.  I now wonder how many people got the news that way.  Having had diabetes for over 20 years, I can now say if I had to have a disease, I’m glad to have one that my actions can influence powerfully.

I’m sure many of you can relate.  Did you hear something stupid too when you were diagnosed?  This instance is my #1 most bonehead moment.  Hopefully it will remain the most stupidest thing I have heard.


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