Together we will beat cancer


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?

Number 5 was my favourite, though 7 was close.

This one is pretty good too!


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





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.



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