How about turning the same question back on them: "Thanks. You look great for what you've been through, too."
If they ask what you are referring to, the answer is "Life - we're all going through it, though we are all taking different routes."
what to say to people when they say 'you look great for what you've been through'
So what is one suppose to look like who is 'living with Cancer'? Has this happened to others? I am looking for a response that will stop them in their tracks!
I get that all the time but I really don't have a problem with it. I guess they expect me to be totally hairless and look ill but neither are the case for me. They usually say "Well, you look good!" and I say "yeah, well everyday is different" implying that some days I look and feel good while others I don't.
I think it's a valid statement seeing as not everyone realizes what we go through. Before I was diagnosed, I knew absolutely no one with cancer so I didn't have much knowledge on it, just what we see on tv and in movies.
How about, "What did you expect me to look like?"--but that's a rather snotty answer! I think it's funny how some people really DO expect you to look TERRIBLE because of your cancer; and when you don't, they don't know what to make of it.
I still try to think of these comments as "teachable moments" and explain how the expanded use of steroids, drugs, etc. (wigs?) allow cancer patients to look better nowadays than they used to--after all, people don't know much about cancer, usually, until they experience it themselves. I figure the more we can educate those "Cancer Virgins", the fewer ignorant comments they'll make to other cancer patients and life will be better for all of us!
When I was a young man and someone paid me a compliment I had no idea what to say. Then one day when it happened again the person realized my secret and quickly said to me, “All you have to do is say thank you.” It was like a heavy load lifted off my back. Thank you has always worked for me.
Yup - This is a great question, people look at you like they expect you to have one foot in the grave. Don't read too much into it, they are trying to connect with you and say what they don't know how to say, that they worried about you, they wanted to help but had no clue or energy to give...
The best answer is to smile like you have a secret and say "Thank You".
Although it may feel as if they are minimizing what you've been through, they probably aren't. Assume they mean well and they can only imagine how difficult things have been for you. Depending on your relationship with the person you could say something witty (some good ideas have already been posted) but you can always just say thank you.
My husband really worries about looking old and sick, so whenever someone tells him he is looking great he takes it as a positive. He feels that family and friends notice how much he has recovered from his last major surgery, so maybe people don't know what to say and it sounds bad to you, but try taking it as a positive, they may be saying it as an encouragement.