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12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

21 Jun 2017 13:09 in response to Toblerone
That is so awful it is funny!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

16 Jul 2017 00:35 in response to Moderator Sarah

I find it strange people.won't say the word cancer to me.

I get sorry about your problem 

How's the err you know

I say CANCER I have cancer I am not going to drop dead on the spot cos you said the word and I am not going to break down in tears and you are not go I g to catch it from me or get it just cos you said the word cancer 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

17 Jul 2017 12:58 in response to Moderator Sarah

This made me laugh today, my daughterinlaw is the queen of platitudes, which when they were said left me feeling ,unheard,dismissed,over sensitive ,drama queen

1 it's the best cancer to have, in the best place

2 my friend had chemo and carried on working and everything

3 think about your holidays it's only six weeks off 

4 if you have to wait for results they can't be that bad

5 my friend, father, next door niebhour had it and they are great

6 your lucky your surgery is planned better than not knowing

7 after your surgery you will have more time to sit in the sun

8 it's going to be tough for a while the you will be ok ( never had cancer! )

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

17 Jul 2017 13:05 in response to RowanS
How absolutely awful, insensitive and cruel. Did anyone stand up for you? You should not be the one feeling dismissed, oversensitive, a drama queen! Seaspirit xx

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

17 Jul 2017 15:02 in response to RowanS

Lol - sadly I've read some of those posted on here, especially "that's the best sort of cancer to have"! 

My all time favourite is "what sort of cancer is it? ... oh my friend's Dad had that one too ... he died"! 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 16:53 in response to RowanS
Yep had the same comment t-shirts made to me especially "that's the best cancer to have" I know this sounds selfish but it mAde me feel like a fraud then they say it is just like having appendicitis once you have your kidney out that's it.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 17:41 in response to Toblerone

While discussing my cervical cancer and proposed pelvic radiotherapy, I was told..

Oh my Uncle had exactly the same thing...?!!

You don't want to take HRT, it gives you cancer...

It's not often I'm left speechless!

 

Keep smiling everyone 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 18:06 in response to Toblerone

Happy

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 18:09 in response to Toblerone
Tried to put smiley faces on, would not have it

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 20:16 in response to seaspirit44

Hi seaspirit44, 

Sorry to hear you're having trouble adding smiley faces to your post.

I thought I would add some to my post on your behalf Happy  Happy

Kind regards, 

Steph, Cancer Chat Moderator

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Jul 2017 22:21 in response to Moderator Steph
Thank you Steph, you cheered me up, having a rough day x

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Jul 2017 00:35 in response to Moderator Steph

 

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer (2015), my sister-in-law sent me am email saying that she thought it would be best if we ceased contact as she did not need any reminder of her own cancer diagnosis (2012).

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Jul 2017 06:41 in response to dunanat1

Hi dunant

This must have been completely shocking to receive and not sure how I would have responded politely!

In my hubby's case action spoke louder than words in that his brother and sister in law just gave us a very wide berth  and only saw him twice in the year before his death, living only an hour away at the time.

I am sure you had plenty of support from the people who mattered but that message would have left a very nasty taste in my mouth!

Wishing you a pleasant day.  Jules

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Jul 2017 07:14 in response to jules54

Hi jules 54

experienced the same the sort of thing when my mum passed .one of my sisters and family  made the experience all the most harder and unfortunatunstey 7 years down the the line I to now have cancer the same thing again .... 

ps living 10 mins away 

funny people 

hugs 

francesca

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Jul 2017 15:31 in response to Francecsca

Hi Francesca

As they say it takes all sorts and I came to the conclusion that our memories would be positive ones and they must deal with their own thoughts. I stay in touch (birthdays and Christmas) because two wrongs do not make a right!!

Your hugs are returned and I wish you all the best with your own journey with cancer, Jules

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Jul 2017 20:10 in response to jules54

Hi jules54,

The phrase "There's nothing as strange as folk" springs to mind!

Some people are just so rude, insensitive, ignorant etc. but they have to live in their own skin!

I now believe that - in some cases , at least - stupidity is indeed contagious

Ah thank you, I have had a very pleasant day indeed. My lovely Mum is staying with us for a few days so it is good to look after her for a change. 

Here is sending warm hugs your way. X

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

24 Jul 2017 19:33 in response to LorraineD

Many of my friends who know me well, did the very best thing for me at the time I was going through the really bad bits. They gave me wine, gin, beautiful writing paper and pens, lovely bath smellies and said, "Is there anything I can do?" I even managed a few tots when I was feeling rubbish, it wouldn`t be for everyone but it worked for me. It is so important to laugh if you can, it is one of the best medicines ever. Surround yourself with positive love and you can`t go wrong and failing that, just breathe.  xx

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Aug 2017 19:38 in response to Moderator Sarah

You look well - that really irritates me, I feel like saying "yeah not bad for someone who is dying" but of course, I never say it lol.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

18 Aug 2017 20:15 in response to AngelCat

I have been known to say exactly that, especially when I was on chemo and had lost some weight. Some people simply can't differentiate between looking sporty & slim and looking poorly & thin! Happy  

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

24 Feb 2018 09:23 in response to davek

There is a post on youtube I have just seen "Seven things not to say to someone with cancer".  I am trying to post it but am having editing problems - meanwhile please take a look!  I presume I can post it here as there is share function but is  it okay to include all the comments beneath the post?  It was these comments I was trying to remove - to no avail.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

24 Feb 2018 23:23 in response to Annieliz

Was it this one? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X34-oBTJTpQ

Number 5 was my favourite, though 7 was close.

This one is pretty good too! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4uP3SyGQ7xw

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

12 Mar 2018 18:38 in response to Moderator Sarah

Some of this is just common sense. There is no good cancer so that gets me the most anyone that would say that. And no one can know how someone else feels unless they have the same thing but even then we are all different on how we handle things, what affects us, what make us sad, happy, what words we would rather hear Happy 

When my husband was going through cancer as long as friends meant well he didn't expect them to always say the right thing. He rather have someone that really cares about him and what he is going through (same with me) than someone that always has the correct words but doesn't bother to visit like they did before or bother to see if we need anything.

Most of our friends now have passed away or moved away with no Internet to stay in touch. Having geniune friends that care about us has meant everything with what we have been through. I have friends that tell me how strong I am when I know I am not strong! I am just surviving LOL doing what i have to but I know they love me and care about what I am going through so that means more to me than if they chose their words perfectly. Now when someone is not a genuine friend, doesn't really care how we are and they say the wrong thing to me then that would upset me. I Keep in mind everyone is different so different things will bother different people and that could leave some really caring people thinking they just rather not say anything to us than to say the wrong thing. I wouldn't want someone that really cares about us to not come by because they were afraid they would say the wrong thing. 

If someone has an easy life, no health problems, finanically secure, loving family to help out, then when they say they know how we feel or to stay positive or how strong I am, those people are the ones that it gets me when they say things like that to me but when my friends that have gone through bad times and/or has severe physical problems even if not the same as my husband and I have gone through then I know their words come from their heart even if they were not the words I rather hear it doesn't bother me. Just them being here for me means everything.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

13 Mar 2018 09:40 in response to Moderator Sarah
What really got me (apart from some of the ones mentioned) was "You look good". What did you expect me to look like? Sthg out of a horror film and if I look this good with cancer how bad did I look before? People do try but it's better to be honest and let me know they don't know what to say.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

24 Mar 2018 14:30 in response to Moderator Sarah

I'm finding this thread really helpful, even although it's three years old. It appears I have breast cancer which is likely to be stage 2 B, only I can't be certain until I see the surgeon on Wednesday for the core biopsy results. I first found the lump earlier this month, and it appears to have spread to a lymph node.

Well intentioned friends have been saying all sorts of things which have driven me potty, but which so far I've swallowed. My Mother (who died 20 years ago) brought me up always to feel obliged to put other poeple's feelings first, to the obliteration of my own. (That was the 1950s.) I now question that philosophy.

So, to let off steam this afternoon, I've drafted the following email I might (or might not) send to well-intentioned frieds.

Dear Friends, All of You

There is some very good advice on the Internet on what not to say to someone with breast cancer, so I do hope none of you will take offence if I take inspiration and provide you with my own list. I’m sure, before now, I will have made these or similar mistakes myself and with the very best of intentions, but of course I’m now at the receiving end.

Please avoid the following.

1.  Telling me about treatments, statistics, the experiences of family and friends, how good cancer care is nowadays and how many patients live a long time. Each patient is different, each cancer is differen (there are several different types of breast cancer alone), treatments vary, and can be very difficult and distressing to deal with. Saying to me, ‘You don’t know yet how it will be, some people don’t have any problems at all and it’ll be worth it in the end,’ is a well-intentioned attempt at reassurance, but is likely to cause a not terribly well-intentioned response. Ask the Cats.

2.  Tell me I’m being brave or courageous, because I’ll be blunt back again; it’s suprising how cancer loosens the tongue. I am not 12 years old. I am, fundamentally, a scientist and believe in facing issues and getting on with them.

3.  Saying ‘let’s talk soon’. Do I want to? Talk about what?  

4.  Telling me I must be worried. Am I? Have I said so?

5.  Telling me to be positive. Why should I be?

5.  Explaining life or anything else to me. I’ve actually got quite a good brain and I’ve been using it for 69 years.

Please remember, kind friends, it is only I who know what I think and feel on any particular day, at any particular time. This is a situation in which I need to be in control.

I do hope you all understand as I really don’t wish to blow up at anybody.

 

I feel a bit better for writing that, whether I send it or not.

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

26 Mar 2018 21:36 in response to Moderator Sarah

I'm sorry you're going through this is good

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

26 Mar 2018 23:35 in response to Rowanberry

On the second week after my mastectomy,  my other half came home from work , chatting about his day .. as I was enjoying the normality ... he said ..." you know Julie who I work with, her husband had cancer".. thinking it was gonna be a good ending story, that I would av loved at that time ...  well he carried on ... "he died last night ..." 

Didn't know weather to laugh or cry...  ; ((  or knock him out .... xx

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2018 15:38 in response to Chriss

Thank you for your replies. It is so difficult to educate well-intentioned people who don't realise the impact of what they are saying.

It has been confirmed I have a 23mm invasive ductal carcinoma, oestrogen +ve. The pre-op assessment is this coming Thursday. The surgeon was lovely and so was the cancer nurse, whom I am seeing again in a couple of weeks. Surgery is likely to be in c. 3 weeks from Thurs.

I sent a mofified version of the above list of 'please don't say' to friends, which has at least limited most responses to a kindly acknowledgement and request to keep in touch.

Unfortunately one person to whom I sent it, after giving me a lovely account of what her cats had been up to, was unable to contain herself any longer. She observed that four weeks was a long time to wait for surgery and wasn't I getting any treatment before then. She included a link to a website showing scarves and head gear for people who have lost their hair through cancer treatments. I had already informed her that I have been advised that whilst they won't know what treatments to recommend until the tumour and lymph node are out, it could be chemo and/or radiotherapy and hormone treatment. They have advised that chemo, which if necessary would go on for 6 months to a year, would involve hair loss, the thought of which really upsets me.

I sent a gentle response, thanking her for her lovely pics of her cats and how much I love to hear about them, then adding 'I am not looking at the site you sent a link to. It is rather hurtful to be sent something like that; facing hair loss for at least a year is not fun, as I am particularly fond of my hair. As I said earlier I really don’t want advice, so please don’t send any more links to anything similar or anything to do with cancer. The specialist cancer nurse has given me plenty of information, and will give more in stages, so I am being well looked after.' 

A very quick reply came back: 'As you wish. I cannot see what is wrong with looking at scarf hats, in view of your concerns but there you are.'

I said something to my computer which made my two lovely cats put their paws in their ears.

That particular friend lives a long distance away, so we don't meet face to face. I'll wait for a bit before writing to her again.

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2018 16:46 in response to Rowanberry

Hi Rowanberry,

Is it time to purge your so-called Friends list?

Seriously, this is the time we all learn exactly who our friends are and which people are just acquaintances Wink On the plus side, we often find that people who we thought were relative strangers turn out to be real friends, we just hadn't known them long enough to realise.

Best wishes

Dave

 

 

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2018 17:52 in response to SillyGal

Greetings Silly Gal

 I really like this post and agree with your views. I don't want people to be lost for words when they see me.  In fact I've never objected if someone tells me I look good.   My cancer is incurable but I'm pleased. when someone says this to me but I seem to be very much in the minority.

Regards

Tosyn

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2018 20:33 in response to tosyn

Hi Tosyn,

If they mean it, I'm cool with it, I'm sure most of us would be.

We've all had lives before cancer and, like many others, I've made many of the faux pas outlined above. I have a friend at my local sailing club who also has stage 4 cancer. We both exchange pleasantries "you're looking well" etc. but we also follow it up with "but how do you feel?" then laugh and tell each other the truth. It is a pretty exclusive club that none of us want to join, but if we can find humour and companionship in real life or online that has to be a good thing Happy

Best wishes

Dave

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

1 Apr 2018 11:12 in response to davek

I don't mind if they don't mean it as long as they care.  I feel that there is no reason why I should get special treatment.  The most hurtful thing by far was a friend of 60 years who dropped me as soon as she heard of my diagnosis. I tried to make overtures to her but nothing worked. I  have had 3 years to get used to it and accept it as her problem now.  It is still sad.

Tosyn 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 May 2018 05:32 in response to Moderator Sarah

so true. People either run away from you or try to be helpful...when they know nothing

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 May 2018 12:56 in response to rocker

Just want to add everyone is different .. everyone needs something different from friends ...

Before cancer we all try to understand what it's like and ponder what to say ... Mention it, not mention it .. talk about happy stuff .. our own problems ... Give them a hug ... Cross the road coz there's a chance we could upset or make things worse... Talk with a sad understanding look, or just smile ... Say you look well .. or you look really ill ... 

Their list goes on and on too ... I remember what those feelings of fingers crossed l say the right things coz I care ... Now with cancer ... No one can fully know all that this entails ... The ups and downs of this journey is emmence ... What we need is world's appart ...  But the one thing that will help us through is a friend .... And to try to understand just how hard it is being that "friend" and forgive those that "get it wrong" . ....  

And l just let things slip right over my head ... Life is too short and every day is precious and thinking about people that don't matter is a waste of that time ...  So please spare a thought for those that get it wrong ... And at least they tried ... X X 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

30 May 2018 08:33 in response to Chriss

I just came upon this old thread today.  I haven't had many of the original questions except one which has happened again and again.

"If there's anything I can do"

Better was the friend who came without asking and cut my lawn when I was in hospital.

D

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

30 May 2018 10:17 in response to Dafra

You are so right Dafra; I am sure people mean well when they ask that question but they are perhaps unknowingly just covering themselves and making them look helpful.  As you say we should know - from our own daily lives - the things that need to be done - wash the car, mow the lawn, get their daily paper, sweep up the fallen leaves (if in autumn) and we shouldn't need to be asked if they need doing.  Your friend/family member/neighbour may not always remember to say thank you but they will be aware it has been done.  And we shouldn't be in it for the thanks anyway.    Annie

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

30 May 2018 13:24 in response to Annieliz

The worse thing someone said to me after I was told Mine was benign was “ I knew it wasn’t cancer as you would have been told straight away!” That’s after biopsies being inconclusive and then having lumps removed! Some people think they are doctors!! I did reply well wish you was my doctors then so I didn’t have to have breast surgery!! Some people just don’t think how hurtful they are being when trying to be nice x 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

27 Oct 2018 22:48 in response to Beachbabe

Wow beachbabe. What a thing to say!

Well I’ve finally calmed down after enduring the latest round of “foot in mouth” disease. Thanks @davek ‍ for directing me to this thread. Here’s a few from my growing collection. No lasting offence taken, though I’ve been rendered speechless a few times, lol!

“BC is nothing to be feared these days - it’s just like diabetes”.

(Hmm, do you mean in the sense that they’re both life threatening, life limiting conditions? You’ll excuse me if I find either of these conditions a tad worrying!).

...On the subject of hormone/chemo induced menopause: “Well you’d have gone through the menopause eventually anyway”. 

(Oh well that’s alright then).

”At least they’ve caught it early”. 

(What makes you think that? Unless I’ve explicitly told you so or you’ve read my pathology report, assume nothing....In much the same way as it would be foolish to assume someone’s pregnant unless they’re lying in the delivery suite legs akimbo with the baby’s head actually coming out. It’s just too embarrassing to get the wrong end of the stick with these things. Trust me.

“You might not lose your hair”.

(True for some chemo regimes, but not mine.  Not unless I’m about to defy medical science anyway. Hmm that reminds me, I must buy a lottery ticket this week. Feeling lucky!).

“My great aunt Flo/uncle derek/Janice who works at the one stop etc etc. had cancer and they’re absolutely fine now ... see?!!!”

(Yeah because our circumstances are obviously identical. Not). 

 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

28 Oct 2018 00:36 in response to Mrsfingers

I didn't tell many people about my endometrial cancer. One female I did tell said, regarding total hysterectomy, "Well, your baby making days are over anyway, so it doesn't really matter."

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

28 Oct 2018 07:14 in response to gamechanger

No words!!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 Oct 2018 18:17 in response to Mrsfingers

Not quite as bad as ... 

“My great aunt Flo/uncle derek/Janice who works at the one stop etc etc. had the same cancer as you ... and they died, they all do! Oh but I'm sure you'll be fine!!" 

I've had that one at least twice Happy 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 Oct 2018 18:50 in response to davek

Best I've had to date is I look so good- better than before I had cancer treatment.......

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 Oct 2018 22:13 in response to davek

Spat out a mouthful of my bedtime cuppa there @davek ‍ 

Priceless!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

29 Oct 2018 22:14 in response to Jbains

There goes another mouthful of my cuppa! 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

21 Nov 2018 20:40 in response to davek

that’s a dreadful one .....and one of the reasons I’m keeping my disease quiet for as long as I can ! 

I had gone on about not eating burnt food and how I believe processed pork products (of which he is fond)  were carcinogenic 

“well there’s no need to for you to worry then Mum it won’t make any difference to you ! He didn’t mean it badly but it hit me badly ☹️ It’s his sense of humour and his way of dealing with the elephant in the room 

The big one that is my very rare, Primary ,incurable ,inoperable, untreatable,brain cancer!  Sons aren’t perfect and we can’t expect people to be either . Sometimes they really just don’t know what to say. It’s worse if they cross the road and ignore you. ....again why I’m keeping quiet. People treat you differently ‍♀️

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

17 Feb 2019 15:53 in response to Moderator Sarah

Oh my goodness! I’ve just been diagnosed and it’s me actually saying to people around me things like “don’t worry, they have caught it early” and “I’m remaining positive!” I think it goes to show how this dreadful disease changes us as we meet our challenges. I’m actually a Counsellor and I would never dream of saying anything like this to one of my clients. Now it’s me using all these cliches!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

5 Apr 2019 23:38 in response to kimchoson

Thankyou for saying that Kim. We are dealing with my friends cancer and we do our best. Some of the comments on this thread towards people are quite unkind. There is no right or wrong thing to say, it depends on the individual I would have thought. Me and my friend have very dark senses of humour that gets us through the day, however some of what we say would probably shock another person with cancer. No one would intentionally say something cruel or insensitive. Like I say we try our best with an alien situation for us all. Some people have never dealt with a person with cancer before and really don’t have a clue, why would they? I had never heard of metastatic cancer before and was unaware that there is no stage 5. I dare say some of you people wouldn’t have known before you were diagnosed and probably made unintentional comments too. However, it has been a learning curve and has made me and others very aware of cancer signs so if there can be any positives out of an awful situation then it’s awareness. Be kind to each other

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

10 May 2019 19:05 in response to Moderator Sarah

A Christian friend has just said to me, (half an hour after receiving my diagnosis from my consultant) ‘God controls my cancer and that I should pray for healing because she’s heard of lots of miraculous cures’.  Worse, that I should ‘deny what’s happening physically and think positive thoughts and pray’

I responded by saying ‘God has sent me all the Doctors and nurses involved in my care and that ‘healing’ is not the same as ‘cure’.  At this stage, if it were a choice, I would rather trust convential medicine over the ‘laying on of hands’ - but they dont need to be mutually exclusive!

It seems having got many different responses from family, colleagues and friends, I’m spending more time managing other peoples emotions than my own!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

10 May 2019 20:58 in response to Addybrook4

Wow just wow. God controls your cancer? In that case did your friend’s “god” give you the cancer? That really is an awful thing to say. Keep strong and good luck with your treatment x

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

10 May 2019 21:09 in response to jukeboxjulie

Thanks jukeboxjulie

This is going to be a very interesting journey.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

10 May 2019 21:13 in response to Addybrook4

Unfortunaetly that is what the doc keeps telling me....it will be a long journey...Hope I get to 5 yrs remision and 10 year cure without getting a second cancer although a nurse did say most get a second cancer