No wonder cancer has its reputation. We have numerous reasons to become instantly shocked and confused as soon as we hear a close one find out about the disease.
Yet, one of the toughest problems about cancer, according to our campaign ambassadors, is the fact that it completely takes your privacy away from you. There is no way to hide or choose the right moment to talk about it once your hair starts falling down and your apparency starts changing due to the chemotherapy sections.
This is why we made a list of things that cancer patients don’t want to hear anymore – and what you should say instead.
1. “Oh my God, that’s terrible news!”
People want help, not despair. Remember that cancer patients have enough of their own anxiety and fears for themselves and are not in conditions to take on other people’s fear: meaning crying and long faces can just make them feel worse.
What to say instead: “I am so sorry that you have to go through this, but I know that you can do it, and I am here to help.”
@karmaxprincess holy shit, I'm literally cringing. ☹️ you poor baby 💔 that sounds so horrible !!— CRYSTAL 🌷 (@moonmoodz) November 30, 2016
2. “So, did you find a lump?”
Especially for breast cancer patients, it’s hard having to relive the horror of finding the lump or whatever the discovery process was every time someone asks. Cancer journey is pretty difficult; you just need to march through it and get to the end – not to repeat every time how painful was the very moment when you found about it and how everything has started.
3. “How come this happen? Do you smoke? Do you have the cancer gene?”
It’s of human nature trying to look for answers and understand the causes of an effect. However, some people can make cancer patients feel like they have an obligation to know why did they develop the disease. Even further, people often wants to know the details to reassure themselves that it could not happen to them. Don’t make the situation about yourself. Show your support instead.
"Keep it to yourself. I didn't get cancer bc I don't know how to take care of myself." What I'm starting to say to people w quack cure recs— Suzanne (@athleteonchemo) January 10, 2017
4. “How does this procedure works exactly? Does it hurt?”
Unless you are a doctor or have personally lived through cancer, do NOT ask too many specific questions about treatment stage or prognosis. It takes a lot of energy and time to explain all of the information you feel curious about. Just let the person guide the conversation.
Rich, for example, is doing it just right:
I met a brother yestaday he's 30 and got Cancer I didn't want to ask too many questions but his spirit and outlook on life was inspiring— Richsoul (@Millz86) October 18, 2016
5. “Your mother/father is very ill honey.”
NEVER ask about cancer in front of the person’s children. Although your intentions are good, children are not (and shouldn’t be) prepared to deal with it. This would only make them even more worried about their parents and afraid of being left alone fearing the worse. Save your comments for later.
6. “My mother-in-law passed away of this same type of cancer in her 40s.”
There is no way this type of comment can be helpful! NEVER say anything like that, even if your intention is the best, looking to relate and care.
7. “But my neighbor who also had cancer two years ago didn’t have to go through this.”
Watch out the comparisons. Everyone’s cancer is different – on a molecular level and on an emotional level, and so are the experiences. Don’t expect to successfully guide the person based on your acquaintance’s experiences.
And please, do not compare types of cancer either:
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, people would say, "At least its JUST thyroid cancer."— Allison (@allisonwrites_) December 9, 2016
8. “You look so good! I wouldn’t even tell you’ve got cancer.”
Instead of making a compliment, you can actually make the person feel worse by saying in other words “you don’t physically reflect the horrible reality”. It is not all about how you look. It’s about how you feel.
9. “I know just what you should do.”
Again, unless you have gone through the exact same situation as the person or is a professional expert, then you don’t know exactly what they need. Each person has different needs and feelings. You can kindly give suggestions based on what you think might help. But be careful to not sound like you are demanding something from the person.
10. “I know you are going to be fine.”
You might be trying to say that you know the person is strong and brave, and that you trust they will do everything they can to manage the situation, but this is how you actually may sound: “I don’t know what to say or do. So just take care of yourself ok? And let me know in case I can help”.
If you want to be really helpful, try offering yourself to do something specific for the person. It could be anything related to household chores, cooking or simply visit them to listen and donate your attention. Better than saying is doing.
If you are not in nursing school with me do not tell me "I'm gonna be fine" because you have no clue 👏🏼— Jordan Dotson (@jordannd13) January 10, 2017
Finally, the best thing you can do is: love, love, love. There are many ways to give assistance and show your support. But two indispensable things are to be present and be positive! You can and give them strength with your love.
Do you have any other tip of what what not to say to a cancer person? Drop us a line in the comments section!
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