Now that I have “experience” (for lack of a better word) with cancer, people often ask me my advice on what they can say or do for a friend or family member that has been diagnosed with cancer. I am no expert; I can only tell you what helped (or didn’t help) us. Hoping to address this, one of my first blog posts was “The 5 Most Ridiculous Things People Say or Do”, followed the next day by “The 5 Most Amazing Things People Say or Do”.
10 Things People With Cancer Want You to Know
Then just last week, I read a blog post on WhatNext.com that helped shed some additional light on this topic from 10 cancer patients. Thank you WhatNext for allowing me to repost your article here on CancerHAWK.
“Fighting cancer is hard on so many levels and for all people involved. Patients are fighting for their lives. Their friends and loved ones often want so much to help, but are afraid of doing too much or too little. They don’t know if they should push to help more, or even how they can help. Others are so afraid for you, for them, that they just back off. Not because they don’t care, but because of their own ignorance or fear. Following are 10 things people with cancer want their friends and loved ones without cancer to know:
1. “Sometimes I do feel like I walk with death beside me, every step, and this is a serious journey. But I’m also still a normally functioning person at home, at work, in my community. I guess it’s hard for people to understand how we live in both worlds at once.” — Jamie
2. “Cancer not only attacks the body, but also the emotional and financial well-being of the patient. If the patient has been fortunate enough to beat back cancer they may look well enough on the outside but still be suffering otherwise.” — love kitties
3. “If people could understand how emotionally vulnerable we are when we first are diagnosed and in treatment it, it might help how we all interact and communicate. During that time, I mostly appreciated closeness, warmth, encouragement, and companionship. I didn’t need sympathy, war stories, or to hear “how brave” I was.” — lynn1950
4. “Do not try to force me to supress my feelings by saying, “Hush, everything is okay, you’ll be just fine and don’t have anything to worry about”. I think it’s important to remain positive and optimistic, but it’s equally important to be realistic.” —HHWIJN
5. “VISIT the person. Money, Phone calls, text messages and emails are very considerate, but can never replace the human touch felt during a human visit.” — donnaakins
6. “People who tell you stories of other people who died of cancer… that’s not helpful.“ — bashiemn
7. “I am not my diagnosis. I would never introduce my friend as “X who just had a cyst removed from her foot” or “Y with arthritis” or “Z who used to have a problem with alcohol.” That’s why I attend a cancer support group with other members who understand.” — akristine
8. “Please don’t sneeze or cough on me because my WBC (white blood count) is shot and if I catch your simple cold, I’ll end up in the hospital and it will interrupt my treatment for cancer. Please understand that when I forget what you just told me, I’m not demented or depressed or not paying attention….I’m on drugs that mess with my short term memory. Thank you for offering to fix my lunch, but what I really need is for you to scoop my cat boxes.” — nancyjac
9. “Every time I tell someone I had breast cancer at 40 years old, their eyes always wander to my chest. I FREAKEN hate that. I guess it is people that don’t understand what it feels like, but it is insulting to me.” — Christine7688
10. “The worst part is the fear of waiting for your test results, what a nervious wreck I become before each oncologist appointment and medical test that I need to take, and how I worry about every ache and pain that I have – is it a recurrence? After 7 years, the worry hasn’t gone away.” — jvbaseballmom2.
What do you wish others knew about what it’s like to have cancer? Tell us by commenting below or clicking here to join the conversation.”
Knowledge is power… So please, share the power! Pass this on to anyone you know who has a friend or family member with a diagnosis of cancer. It’s great advice to keep in mind…. and remember, if you don’t know what to say or do, showing up, lending an ear, and remaining positive no matter what will mean A LOT to the person you care about.
ABOUT WhatNext.com: WhatNext is a fantastic online cancer support network & community. Whether you are a cancer fighter, survivor or caregiver, WhatNext connects you with others embarking on a similar path or with the same cancer diagnosis. When dealing with cancer, patients, caregivers and family members have to make numerous decisions and fulfill many needs. Knowing what to do and where to turn for help is no easy task. At WhatNext, people can share their experiences, offer insights and find resources that can help them throughout their cancer journey. WhatNext was developed with participation from the American Cancer Society.
Read more about the wide variety of available cancer support services.