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Guy With Cancer Lashes Out At Oblivious Coworker Who Complimented Him On His Weight Loss

National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

It’s never a good idea to comment on someone’s weight loss, and one man on Reddit is a perfect example of why: His weight loss turned out to be a side effect of pancreatic cancer.

When his coworker complimented on his new body, he got angry and set her straight. But he wasn’t sure about how he’d handled it, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username Ok_Jacket_4469 on the site, asked:

“AITA for snapping at my coworker who complimented my weight loss?”

He explained:

“I’m a male and my ideal weight is 185. I always maintained that weight until my life was completely turned upside down give years ago. I got up to 220.”

“I started to focus on eating less instead of just working out. Slowly the weight started to come off. Then really started to come off. In two months I lost 20 pounds.”

“I knew that was not possible so I went to my doctor who did an MRI. I have pancreatic cancer. To add insult to injury, my diet and exercise had zero to do with my weight loss.”

“The other day my coworker said I looked great with all the weight that I was losing. She asked me what I was doing. I sarcastically replied ‘cancer.'”

“She laughed until she realized I wasn’t. She asked me if I was serious and I said I was and it’s not polite to comment on someone’s changing physical appearance. In fact that’s fu*king rude.”

“She apologized and said she didn’t know. I laughed and told her that I look like sh*t, not healthy. So common sense would say not to say anything.”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And this one proved to be very divisive, with many siding with OP and others feeling like he took things way too far.

“YTA She apologized right away for a honest mistake, and then you insulted her again. You owe her an apology, dude.” –MoFun06

“I disagree. Unsolicited comments on a body, particularly in a workplace, are rude even if they are (well) intended to be compliments. There’s always that implied casual point of ‘you looked uglier before!'”

“Additionally, my friend’s mom had something like this happen. She dropped a ton of weight since she was being abused by her ex husband. Some coworker said she looked great and also asked her her secret. She said it was not eating because her ex was busy abusing her so she never had time.”

“Bottom line is don’t compliment physical appearances unsolicited, especially at work. Compliments are nice, but keep bodies out of it unless explicitly asked for an opinion.”

“NTA” –Shelballama

“My thing is, I wonder if he ever mentioned to the coworker if he was trying to lose weight, even once in passing. Even if it was something like ‘I am trying to be healthies.’ Then, the coworker would automatically associate the weight loss with ‘I am trying to get healthier.'” –ChildhoodExisting752

“I’m gonna jump on here and agree – slight – YTA. OP has been actively working out and eating healthy/eating less. He’s been trying to lose weight and get healthier. It’s just (very sadly) coincidental that it was the cancer that actually caused his weight loss when he was trying to get healthy. I’m guessing that it’s very possible that this coworker saw his lifestyle changes – heard that he was changing his diet, working out, etc. and clearly meant it as a compliment.”

“Think of it this way: OP WANTED to lose weight. Stated this first thing in the post. Obviously, he didn’t want to lose weight by the means that he did. However, do you think OP would have reacted this way had he not been diagnosed with cancer and had actually lost the weight through diet/working out? No.”

“He definitely would have taken it as a compliment. And I get it, cancer is a hell of a thing to go through and I empathize completely that OP snapped because of the circumstances. But I don’t think coworker was an AH here.” –Dauntless-One

“He doesn’t owe her an apology. She had no right to make a comment on his body, because she had no idea what is going on in his life to cause those changes. You never know if you are stirring up upset over an eating disorder, depression, cancer, etc.”

“It’s best to just not say anything at all when it comes to someone’s body unless someone is actively trying to change their body and is actually asking for a comment. Otherwise it is none of your business. Also OP has cancer why the F should he have to expend extra energy apologizing to this AH??” –antifreezeontherocks


“Its always rude to comment on another’s weight.”

“I’ve had medical issues as well since having given birth to my baby a little over a year ago. I very quickly lost all my pregnancy weight + another 20 lbs, making me weigh even less than I did pre-pregnancy.”

“I have always been an average weight, never over, never under. I’m now underweight for my height and get comments about how “great I look“ and “wow you don’t look like you had a baby!” It’s extremely frustrating IMO and I hate hearing it.”

“Skinny/losing weight does not always equal/mean healthy.” –New-Enthusiasm3403

“he is the a**hole, however, the other person should let this kind of a**hole go. Pancreatic cancer is almost 100% fatal. you back down and let people in these kind of conditions scream and vent. You just take it up to a certain point. If i did this, I know its not my fault, but I would still feel bad.”

“i have seen people who are seriously ill and everyone has bad moments and depression. its best to just let this kind of a**hole go. you could be the one sick next.” –xitox5123

“I mean I don’t wanna call a guy who just got diagnosed with cancer an a**hole, but I’m gonna power through it.”

“You yourself said at the beginning of this post 185 is your ideal weight, you weighed more, and so you were actively doing things to change that. Which means at the time, before you knew about your diagnosis, you were trying to change your appearance. Your coworker had zero reason to believe your weight loss was due to your illness. I mean, even you thought it was due to your exercise and diet.” –thankuhexed

“YTA. I’ve had cancer twice. It’s not an excuse to treat other people poorly.” –Harry7411

“Sorry, but YTA.”

“She clearly meant it as a genuine compliment, and you continued to chew into her after she had apologized. You may feel like you look like sh*t, but she very clearly thought you looked nice. Most people don’t realize that kind of weight loss is dangerous or an indicator of something more.”

“I am so sincerely sorry you’re going through this. Based on your post, you have a lot of emotions and self worth tied up in your weight in the first place, and you’re going through a very serious disease. And there are no words for how horrific that must be for you.”

“But you took those emotions out on someone unfairly. After she apologized, that should have been the end of it. You owe her an apology for snapping at her.”

“ETA: Comments on weight are something we should all be moving away from, that much is true. I made this judgement on the assumption she was aware he was making effort to lose weight, however, if not I would certainly say ESH.”

“None of that changes that he took out his feelings on her though. She absolutely deserved the reality check, but it sounds like a fair amount of anger at OPs situation came out at her unfairly.” –SlammyWhammies

“So many people saying Y.T.A. Or N.T.A., but I think it really depends on the relationship. I had a coworker tell me that they could never eat the 1 donut I had at an event for breakfast because it was empty calories. I had met this person only once before. As someone with fairly severe body dysmorphia, I found myself unable to eat the rest of the day. He was most certainly the AH.”

“On the other hand, my closest friends at work have told me my bags under my eyes have bags and that I look like sh*t. We laughed and complained about the time of year.”

“All of this is to say is that context and relationships matter. I’m not about to comment on someone’s physical appearance unless we have that history or understanding.”

“Regardless, I think OP’s response was unnecessarily harsh, and she clearly apologized and likely still feels like sh*t/is thinking about it, if it wasn’t malicious (and it doesn’t sound like it), so I’d likely be between E.S.H. Or Y.T.A. depending on how familiar him and her are.” –zrt4116

Hopefully OP can return to being in good health soon.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.