A matter of respect

Princess Catherine was forced to disclose her cancer. She owed nobody an explanation.

Melissa Swim completed 13 years as a breast cancer survivor on March 10.

When I saw the video announcing that Catherine, princess of Wales, had cancer, I wasn't at all surprised. I had a feeling since I heard the words "abdominal surgery."

What I have been surprised about in the last several weeks was the vicious speculation around her whereabouts. Has she died? Is that a body double? William is having an affair? Are they divorcing? Was she "Epsteined"?

No, she's a 41-year-old mother of three small kids who just got a life-changing diagnosis and was trying to heal and protect her kids.

The public and the media, with their rabid speculation, forced the princess to do this. She didn't owe an explanation about a private health matter to the public, no matter who she is.

And sadder even is that she will not be left alone now - the publicity will ramp up and the disrespect for her struggle will continue.

* * *

As a person who actually received some of the worst treatment during my cancer journey from my employers (who didn't know what the heck they were doing with a sick person who needed some understanding, and who knew I was the subject of gossip in my absence) and a certain "family" member (who expressed their concern to anyone who would listen but whom I barely heard from), I will tell you something.

Don't make the absolute hardest thing a person is going through harder.

Respect boundaries, show compassion, help where you can, and understand how jarring a critical diagnosis such as cancer is to a person's life. It's awful at any age - but let me tell you, when you are young and with children, it is even more tragic and terrifying. (I was 36.)

Be kind. Be respectful. Be a helper. Mind your business - and, if your actions aren't to help a struggling person, rethink them.

I wish Princess Catherine a full recovery. Princess or not, she's a person and she deserves some respect.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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