Friday, September 20, 2013

Things NOT to Say To A Friend Newly Diagnosed With Cancer.

"You haven't mentioned dying, are you in denial?"

This was said by a woman who I'd thought was intelligent and sensitive, but when she came out with that comment, I was momentarily speechless.

"If you want to stay healthy, don't repress your feelings, that leads to illness which degenerates to cancer."

Oh, I see, the cancer is my own fault, and preventable, if only I hadn't repressed my feelings. Gee, wish I'd known that earlier.

"My sister's cousin's mother's uncle's girlfriend had that, and it was no big deal."

Well, I guess I should be able to breeze through it too, then.

I saw my doctor yesterday, and was telling him some of the astounding comments I've received, and that I planned to write a book with the same title as this blog post, and he assured me that he'd purchase a copy.

In truth, most of my friends have rallied around with great support, and my partner is a gift from my Higher Power with his steadfast love, and ability to make me laugh so hard I can't see straight. I'm still waiting for the last test needed to stage the tumour, and then for a visit with the surgeon to find out what sort of horrors will be visited upon me by the medical profession.

My mental state is good, when I'm not hearing versions of the above nonsense. Please, don't say things like this to a friend with cancer, it doesn't help even remotely, and saying, "You're handling it so well!" is akin to saying, "Whatever you do, don't break down in front of me." Sometimes, all we want is to be able to say exactly how we feel, without feeling judged.


  1. I don't think that people really know what to say--either with cancer, a personal tragedy, or a death. I have been amazed at some of the comments received after the parents died. One person said that because they were old and lived a long life, we didn't need to grieve. I realize that people aren't adequately gifted in knowing what to say. So I just let it go.

    Wishing you the best and hoping that the nonsensical comments just slough off you without consequence.

  2. What are appropriate/helpful things to say?

  3. I made list like this when I found out I was Gluten Intolerant. I titled it "Things not to say to people with food allergies or intolerance." It amazes me on what people can say in many different areas.

    I often don't know what to say and I just say "I am sorry and I will be praying for your (and I mean I do that isn't a fake sentiment)". I have trouble trying to figure out if someone wants to get it off their chest and talk about it or rather talk about other stuff. I know sometimes people need a distraction and welcome you talking about your own life even if it is trivial. I used to feel like a jerk when I would talk about my pitty stuff and silly life issues when I found out someone was ill or just ha had an extreme loss. The one day someone told me "you know it is OK. We like hearing about normal life. We actually welcome "normal trivial things." My old boss was diagnosed with cancer and having a rough go and many times our chats are just about random bs and she laughs at the pettiness that still goes on in our office. Or she asks about my day and how my life is going.

    Does it help you when people talk about silly random life everyday things?

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