“Chemo is bad for you.”
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is already hard enough. Having to face your options and decide what to do to fight it and stay alive makes it that much more difficult. Yes, I am aware that chemotherapy is poison and bad for me but this cancer is trying to kill me and that poison is what might kill it and let me live. I know there are people who have gone with more natural alternatives and I am so happy for them but please don’t stress me more than I already am.
“I heard *insert any other treatment* cures cancer.”
This kind of goes with the previous statement. I understand that most of the time the intentions behind saying this are good but talking to a cancer patient about an unproven treatment most of the time just causes stress and puts doubt in their mind. It is different if the person voices that she is thinking about taking an alternative route but if they haven’t it’s better to just let them make their own decision.
“It’s just hair.”
Yes. It is just hair. But it is also part of one’s identity. To me, it is an important part of my body and my life. So yes, although it is just hair, losing your hair is a big deal. It will help a lot more if you are there to support the person when they are having a hard time dealing with losing their hair and help them find ways for them to feel beautiful.
“I know this person who also had….”
Ok so this is a little touchy. It can bring you comfort to know that there is hope when you hear about somebody else who’s been through the same thing you are going through but the only thing that came to my mind when I was told this was “well I’m happy for them but that doesn’t guarantee it will all be ok for me”. So this is something that, in my opinion, is ok to say but it is important to know that it will not necessarily make the person feel a lot better.
” Let me know if there is something I can do.”
This might seem innocent and helpful but it isn’t necessarily. The person has many things going on and might not always be able to think of what you can do for her and or ask for your help. Instead, be specific about what you can do to help. For example: “I will bring you dinner one night to help you out.” or “Let’s go shopping to get you out of the house”.
One thing I realized when I was diagnosed is how much of a touchy subject cancer is for some people. People were hesitant to talk to me about it and to be honest it was a little annoying for me. I do understand they want to be sensitive and not say something wrong but I don’t take much personally with this subject because I imagine it’s hard to know what to say. I want this to be something people talk about and inform themselves on instead of just shying away from the subject or looking at cancer patients with pity.
I am lucky enough to never have had someone that I love have cancer. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get the news and to know what to say or do to comfort that person and that is why I wrote this. Now that I am going through it, I hope this helps others going through cancer and their families and friends. Please know that this is based on my personal opinion and some other cancer patients’ opinion. Others may not agree with this.