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12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Feb 2015 18:18 in response to max56

Hi Max, good to hear you sounding spunky! I know that people really don't know what to say, or how to react when they talk to us. But, it is frustrating when they say stupid things like "are you scared that you are going to die?" I believe we all have a yellow streak down our back about death period, but our own? of course. Do they think that a diagnosis of cancer comes with a manual on how to die without being scared?

I try to be sensitive to people who can be so inappropriate about my disease, but sometimes it just seems like so much work. I really wish they would educate themselves on the mental and emotional issues, not to mention the physical challenges, that come with a diagnosis of cancer, instead of expecting me to spend what little emotional strength I have to do it for them. Having said that, I guess it happens with any serious life challenging issue that people face that cause extreme fear in people. I'm thinking of when I lost my son to suicide. I was appalled at some of the things that were said to me at that horrific time in my life. I guess it just goes with the territory. We have to teach people how to treat us at such a difficult time.

Take care of yourself Max and live your best life however you can. Don't use up your precious energy on people who just don't know any better, and won't take the time and effort to find out how to be supportive and more appropriate.

Sending lots of hugs your way.


12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

20 Feb 2015 18:24 in response to max56


It does make you wonder whether stupidity is contagious! 


12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

21 Feb 2015 22:12 in response to LorraineD


Hi Lorraine - so good to hear from you!  How are you at the moment, fully recovered from your lung op? Have you any more imminent treatment coming up?

I was so sad to read that you lost your son 12yrs ago - that must be so very hard to cope with and I admire you for the work you have done raising awareness regarding suicide.  You have certainly faced some difficult times in your life Lorraine and my heart goes out to you.  Much love to you my friend and speak soon x

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

22 Feb 2015 14:04 in response to max56

Hi Max, thank you for acknowledging my loss from the suicide death of my son. It was, and still is, the most difficult period period in my life and something we never recover from; we just learn to live with it.  Parents are not supposed to bury their children ever, but a suicide adds an entirely new dimension to that.

As for my recovery from my lung surgery, I'm now doing pretty good on that front physically, but the surgeon wasn't very optimistic about a possible return of the cancer. There won't be any more surgery if it does return, so it will be some other form of treatment. Of course, the bladder cancer is ongoing. I just had another surgery earlier this month for that and now waiting for the path report to see what follow-up will be done. The saga continues.

Max, this has been, and still is, one long and arduous journey for you. You are certainly a great supporter to others on this forum. I'm so glad the many posters on here who you have supported over the years, are now giving it back. As I recall, you were likely one of the first responders when I first came on here. I am so glad I found this site as it has been a God send for me in this journey that no one would ever choose to be on. Just know that you are always in my thoughts and my prayers. I wish you well my dear friend. Be gentle to yourself.



12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

12 Mar 2015 22:45 in response to LorraineD

You are all right! I think i had most of those said to me, and yep the positive word was the worst, we all try our best to get through our ordeals, positive is one thing but it sort of makes those who sadly have lost their fight or those who cannot be treated seem as if they are not being positive - those who have never had cancer should just try to understand its not just an attitude illness, its a painful, frightening, depressing, debilitating time physically and emotionally for both us and our families, and it doesn't stop there, we then face yearly check ups and each visit live through hell wondering if we are going to be ok for another year. x

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

24 Mar 2015 23:29 in response to Space_1999

Offered a Vicar....Mr Grey by any chance?? lol What do they offer athiests I wonder? Devil

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

25 Mar 2015 09:52 in response to Moderator Sarah

"How lucky you were to be able to lose a lung"!

How did I not feel grateful or very lucky to have got the Cancer that necessitated this! 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 16:09 in response to Moderator Sarah

My ex mother in law feels compelled to make thoughtless comments about my hair that is growing back in.her latest is I look butch.i find it her comments very upsetting and am avoiding her at the moment.

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 17:33 in response to macmillan

Know what you mean some people are really insensative.

I find that I can make jokes about my cancer and treatment like I've saved a fortune on shampoo and the hairdressers but if anyone else makes a joke I start to get upset.  I tend to cope with one whiticism but after that it can be meltdown.

I think some people think they are helping by trying to joke about these things.


12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 18:16 in response to Moderator Sarah

I think Cancer is such a taboo subject, i have alway found t hard to brach the subject with others in the past, have never known what to say, how to say or when. I think a lot of that was out of fear as even the word scared me. The fatct is we are all diffrent and respond to things in diffrent ways and even on diffrent days we may respond dffrently. I found Once i was diagnosed i found it eaqually as hard to talk about and apporach the subject. I felt like i was dropping a bomb into conversations to bring it up. Should cancer be spoken about more openly?  Even join in in this chat forom scared me as it seemed to make it so much more real. I was told by the same person on the same day that 1: I was so lucky to have so much time on my hands, (due to suspending my studies for my health) and 2: how come someone who had a baby this teaching block could continue with there studies yet i couldent. However even now i would still find cancer a hard conversation. 

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 19:08 in response to macmillan

Yes the good thing is avoid the insensitive people and surround yourself with people who can support you.  Avoid the people with "foot in mouth disease" there are plenty of them around!!

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 20:18 in response to Moderator Sarah

I have a friend who said 'at least they've caught it early,' though she didn't even ask what stage my cancer was at, I wasn't aware that T4N2 was early, (though thankfully M0)

I know people can feel awkward about what to say, but a little thinking before speaking would be helpful

12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

31 Mar 2015 20:40 in response to Pauline2

Hi Pauline,

That one made me chuckle Happy

I was rather cruel to someone shortly after I'd been diagnosed. The conversation was going well until she asked what stage I was at. I said I was at stage 4 which triggered the question "when do you go into stage 5". I just fell about laughing - another friend explained why after I'd left the room! It's amazing what some people say when they feel awkward and stuck for words!





12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

5 Apr 2015 18:01 in response to davek

Hi Dave


Sometimes you just have to laugh or you cry (or want to hit someone/something.) 

Maybe she wanted to make you a certificate for each stage. Maybe stage 5 can be when the cancer is trying to protrude out of your body a little like in Alien and stage 6 when it escapes and tries to take over everyone around you (I'm sure some people think it is contagious)


best wishes


12 things never to say to someone who has cancer

6 Apr 2015 00:00 in response to Pauline2

I think were all being too tough on people's thoughtless comments about our cancers. Its genuinely tough for people, they dont know what to say, but at least do try. When they say something insensitive forgive them. Before getting cancer you may have come out with exactly the same comments. The worst thing is not the insensitive comments but people avoiding you because they really dont know what to say to you or is it because they think cancer is catching.