While scrolling through Facebook today, I came across a post from a friend who was angry about a confrontation. She had pulled her vehicle into a handicapped parking space at the grocery store.
“You Don’t Look Handicapped!”
As she exited her parked car, an older man felt the need to confront her. He said, “You Don’t Look Handicapped.” What he couldn’t see was that her son has mobility issues from an inoperable brain tumor. Did she need to park in that handicapped parking place? You better bet your ass she does. Cancer and chemo effect everything from your sense of smell, nausea, equilibrium, and stamina to walk for more than short distances.
Her Facebook post felt like a quick in the stomach. An incident while Gunner was on steroids flooded my mind. He was coming off 29 days straight of high dose steroids to push all the leukemic cancer cells out of his bone marrow. If that doesn’t sounds incredibly painful, then I don’t know what does. On top of that, the steroids make his cheeks bright red as if he’s sunburnt. Plus, as an added bonus, steroids make you feel gittery and insatiably hungry.
We walked in the restaurant. As we are standing in front of the cash register, I could feel the glare. I turn sideways and connect eyes with an older woman staring at Gunner. I can sense the judgement as she sees his rosy red, chubby steroid cheeks. The snicker she made when she rolled her eyes and looked away said it all. While she though I was “a mother who had a lazy, fat kid as a result of my poor parenting decisions.” In reality, my baby wanted McDonald’s and after daily doses of chemo that would take him close to the brink of death, I figured McDonald’s was the least of my worries. I’m so thankful Gunner didn’t notice her ignorance.
The truth is many are fighting battles that aren’t visible from their outward appearance. I’m not sure when people lost the ability to speak kindly to each other. But I hope that grumpy old man, who so rudely said, “You don’t look handicapped.” learned an important lesson that day.
It’s a helpless feeling to watch your child fight for their life. Meanwhile you’re stressed to the max trying to manage the insurmountable medical bills that can bankrupt a family. Plus deal with strangers ignorant comments! We are only human, and Lord help the next person that makes another stupid comment about my cancer warrior!
What would you have said if in the situation my friend was in?