Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Strangeness of Kind People: A Cancer Etiquette Guide

Before I talk about the odd things that people say in response to your Cancer diagnosis, let me first say that I was probably one of those people who responded with an inappropriate, but well-meaning comment before I, myself was diagnosed. I think that people really do care but sometimes, just don't know what to say. Nothing kills the mood more at a party than telling someone you have Cancer!

I am no expert on Cancer Etiquette but I am quickly realizing there are just some things you should or shouldn't say. 

In the category of things you like to hear:

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry to hear this news! Are you ok? Do you want to talk about it?"

"I will pray for you. Is it ok if I put your name on a prayer list at my church/synagogue?" (I always say YES to this one. The more prayers, the better!)

"I can help you if you need a ride to an appointment, I can cook you a meal, help with the kids, etc" (Be  specific in what your useful skills are to help the person out. One friend offered to clean my house but instead I asked her to come over and give me a manicure as that is her trade. Plus, I really look forward to some girl time that doesn't make me feel like a "patient").

"I want to say something positive to you but I don't even know what to say". A mom at school actually said this to me and I responded, "You just DID say something positive by showing me you care." If she had stayed silent and never spoke to me about it, I would have felt she didn't care. Don't be afraid to speak to me. I won't break! I may cry, but that is ok. I'm probably due for one anyway.

"I am here for you and I will keep sending you positive thoughts and energy".

"You are very strong and I know you will get through this. We are all here to support you and you won't get through this alone."

In the category of things you don't need to hear:
"How did this happen to you? You're so healthy and do everything right!"

"Well, they caught it early so you'll be just fine." (You don't know this for sure. Cancer lives in the body for a long time and everyone's case is so unique. Don't be so flip.)

"My cousin had Cancer in his testicles and he did great!" (Yup. Boobs, balls, all the same).

"My sister in-law had half of her esophagus removed and then had chemo. You'll be fine, just like her!"

"Cancer is a gift!"

"I swear there is something in the water! You are the 2nd person this week to tell me this."

"Wow, I've had this growth on my leg, can you look at it?"

And the prize for the stupidest comment to date:
"I think you are cursed"

So, there you have it. My first Cancer Etiquette Guide, from me to you.  Share it with anyone who suffers from diarrhea of the mouth. 


Lori said...

Whew. So glad that none if my words made this list. :)


I think that it would be great if we could give out prizes when someone makes a stupid comment. :-)


You are a great role model, Becky. I hope that everyone who reads this takes a positive action, whether it be making those appointments or taking better care of themselves.