Saturday, April 1, 2023
Home / Fight Like a Girl Magazine / Reflections / Living with an Illness / Ignorance and Insensitivity Where Do You Draw the Line?

Ignorance and Insensitivity Where Do You Draw the Line?

(This blog entry is a fan picked topic…thank you Nicole Bergreen!)

Nicole, had shared with me that during her most recent hospitalization, (#7 within 8 months) she had a CNA at the hospital tell her that if she believed in God and prayed hard enough her POTS and EDS would go away. SERIOUSLY?

I understand that most people cannot grasp the gravity of such a devastating illness if they have never had to experience the symptoms. I also understand people want to lend comfort, and some people find comfort in religion or other ways. But the fact of the matter is that the CNA was completely out of line. For numerous reasons! The most obvious being, how does she know Nicole’s beliefs? Secondly, and most importantly, in her comment of “pray hard enough and it will go away” she is essentially saying that Nicole’s illnesses are not serious, and pretty much all in her head! I believe the line of ignorance was overstepped and this CNA landed squarely into the land of insensitivity.

I always have a problem with people trying to make me feel better by blowing sunshine up my butt with remarks like “It will get better!” or “If you just stay strong you will be just fine!” While I appreciate people wanting to make me feel better, it is infuriating to hear these things! How do they know it will get better and WHEN will it get better? Just stay strong and I will be fine? REALLY? I am as strong as I can be, and I am not any more fine then I was a year ago! I try to keep a positive energy about myself because this illness can easily throw you down the rabbit hole of depression but I am also realistic and I just wish others would respect the fact that I know I am not getting any better and I know that I am not ok.

The fact is, in today’s society, people tend to say things without thinking. The CNA could have just as easily said to Nicole “I don’t know what your belief system is, but if you do believe in God, you may find some comfort in praying.” She would have then acknowledged Nicole’s illness, and respected her unknown belief system. Life would be so much easier if people would just button their lip and think before speaking!

My question for this entry is “Have any of you had an experience where someone crossed the line from ignorance to insensitivity? If so how did you handle the matter?”

I wish you all health and happiness!

Peace & Paw Prints

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.


  1. Mary Dunn

    This is so my mama. She tells me that i just need the faith of a mustard seed and god will heal me. Well, He has saved my life by delivering me from death more than once. It hurts to know others think because i am honest about my condition that I don’t have faith. Also I get, “Don’t speak it, say it out loud, or claim it.” Some religious fanatics just don’t get it. Would I like a miraculous healing? YES! Do I believe God can heal me? YES! I also know that He uses medical people and medicines too. Just because one has a chronic illness with no cure in sight, doesn’t make them faithless or prayless. Thanks for another great column!

  2. Sally Weber

    I had a real problem reading this. As a strong Christian, that kind of platitude is way out of line. It is insensitive, but it is also very unbiblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that if you pray hard enough God will take your pain, struggle, “thorn” or anything else away. He might. I do believe in healing and miracles, but I do know that many times He allows us to continue on with our struggles. Why? We may never know, but He does want us to learn and grow and as a means to draw us closer to Him, to find out about Him and to trust in Him. We can’t do it alone.

    I don’t think she was putting down the illness. I have heard people use the same claim for those with cancer! Some just have warped beliefs and unfortunately, they are sometimes the most vocal and it turns people off.

  3. Kimberly Bowman

    I had a very similar experience a few months back. After church one Sunday my Dad and his wife took my children and I to Mcdonalds. The kids were playing, and she decided it was time to get on her soap box. She said that I talk about my EDS too much and I should just pray and God would heal me completely. Not only was it insensitive, but the way she said it made it feel as if she was basically laying all of the blame for my condition square in my lap. Also I do not think it is up to any living person to tell me what God is or is not going to do.

  4. Lusea

    I had almost the exact same experience happen to me recently. I was in Urgent Care for depression. After taking my vitals the nurse turned to me and said,”Just so you know, a good relationship with God always helps with depression.” If I didn’t see the sincerity in her eyes I probably would have gotten more upset. Though, I felt it had no place in a medical situation. Especially because she has no idea what I personally believe in myself. I am in fact Pagan, and with that I am a very open minded and accepting person. But the one thing I struggle with when it comes to my path is that my beliefs are often ignored or not taken seriously. Though I appreciated what the nurse was trying to do for me, it was very inappropriate. I couldn’t help but also feel that there is never any room for my beliefs either. As a spiritual person, my beliefs give me a lot of courage with my battle of depression and now, endometriosis. But I also understand that it is not something that can simply just be wished away. I too have problems with being told to just remain “super happy sugar fantastic”. I am not that type of person. Thank you for posting this. It was honestly comforting.

  5. mary

    While hospitalized over Christmas Holidays last year after recieving colonostomy for my ovarian cancer, I rang for a nurse. When the CNA came in, she said “What do you need? I have real patients who need real help”…I can’t explain how this made me feel, as I’ve always gone out of my way to be nice to the nursing staff…

  6. Cory Walsh

    Sheesh….what is it with CNAs? They must not get any sensitivity training. I, too, had a CNA babble on during one of my hospital stays…she knew someone who knew someone who had the exact same thing, blah blah blah and Praise the Lord. I don’t even remember all that she said because I blocked it out. I considered the source ~ an ignorant woman with no clue. I’m a two time breast cancer survivor with a newly diagnosed mass in my lung. My biopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. And they’re coming out of the woodwork with their prayers, cures, reasons, etc. I don’t listen….in fact, I’m singing ♫♫♫♫ Zip-a-dee-do-dah ♫♫♫♫ to myself while they solve all of my problems. I’m fighting like a relentless girl but I’m also fighting with grace. Best wishes, Dani. Hang in there, Honey…

  7. Retha

    I can identify… before my mastectomy I had to hear over and over again: “We prayed for you and God WILL heal you!” Well, I am a believer and have a relationship with God whom I love, but never once did He promise me the same thing… So, question is, is my faith too little? No…. people are too scared to admit that God doesn’t always heal or rescue…. BUT, He is always there through everything. So no, people shouldn’t make statements like that, it only does damage at the end of the day!

  8. Pamela

    I have heard all kinds of stuff from people. I know so many of them mean well but, telling to stay positive, well I try to do the best I can, but I also have to acknowledge the fact that I had breast cancer and it was in my lymph nodes and then had a re-occurrence just 2 years later and lost both my breast that I will worry about it hiding in other parts of my body. People tell me how lucky I am to be alive, and yes I realize that, but I also suffered a great loss. and all these people still have their breast, so unless they do not have any, how can they possibly relate to how I feel, and I love it when people tell me that I just need to put the load in Gods hands and get on my knees and pray more. So is my cancer my fault because I did not pray enough? or if i put it all in Gods hands I will be cured or have no worries cancer causing my death.

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