Things NOT to say to people with Cancer...

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posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:13 AM
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I just need to vent I suppose. I have been sitting around thinking about this all morning and I have some advice to folks who may have a friend or family member dealing with Cancer.

I understand death is a taboo subject in our society and culture. So there are bound to be some inappropriate responses when the subject is brought up.

These are some of the rudest statements that were actually said to me at some time during the last two years I've been fighting Melanoma. Please don't say these kinds of things to people that have cancer.



1. "So when are you going to be all better? When is your cancer going to be all gone?" (to a stage IV cancer patient)

2. "It can always be worse."

3. "Lance Armstrong had cancer and he's doing fine, so you'll be fine too."

4. "Everything happens for a reason."

5. "But you don't look like you're sick...." (This is my personal favorite that immediately makes me feel like punching whoever said it in the face if I just had the strength to.)

6. "All you need to do is think positive."

7."I'm sure its fine/I'm sure its nothing."

8. "Well, I guess you're finally getting some time off from work."

9. "You're only given what you can handle."

10. "I thought you had surgery and chemo last time? How can it be back? Just shows chemo does'nt work."

11. New Agers please don't ask about have we ever repressed negative energies to someone with cancer, we really don't want to hear it.

12. "So do they think the chemo will help?"

13. "Maybe this will help you think of all the things you need to change in your life."

14. Some bozo I just met-- "So you're going through radiation for cancer?"
Me-- "Yes."
Some bozo I just met-- "So how long do you have to live?"

15. Some other bozo I just met-- "Wow, you have stage 4 Melanoma?"
Me-- "Yes I do."
Some other bozo I just met-- "You know weed and baking soda cures cancer right?"

16. On telling some people of my diagnosis (Acquaintances mostly) they will then tell me about their uncle, cousin, mother friend, roommate, whoever that had cancer and died from it. I suppose that they are trying to relate and it's the first thing that pops into their heads but still, nobody with cancer wants to hear it.

17 "So how did you get your cancer?" (Then they will usually proceed to tell me of some homeopathic cure they read about.)

18. We don't want to hear about how cancer runs in your family.

19. We don't want to hear about how we needed to lose some weight in the first place.

20. Don't tell me that one time you had a cyst on your breast and you totally understand what I'm going through.

21. Don't tell them that their treatment isn't good for them and the chemo is just a racket by big pharma. Don't tell them about some "natural" remedy that is just oh so sure to cure them that you read about in the latest issue of Crazycrazy Monthly.

22. Don't tell me that I should'nt be sad, I of all people have the right to be sad if I friggin want to.

23. And another favorite (well, i was split between this one and #5) that almost EVERYONE says.

"If there's anything that I can do to help, please let me know..."

99 percent of people don't really mean it and they are just trying to be nice in their own way. So please just don't even say it.

24. "You are so lucky the treatment worked!!!"

Yeah, I'm real lucky alright. I'm lucky that I'll never work again. I'm lucky that I have nerve damage and constant tinnitus from all the cancer drugs. I'm lucky that I lost 60 pounds and was so nauseated I could'nt even watch a grocery commercial without immediately yaking. I'm lucky that all it takes is walking to the bathroom to make me feel like i just ran a marathon. I'm lucky that my leg bones always feel like icepicks are in them. I'm lucky I have a constant headache where that tumor destroyed all the bone and tissue behind my right eye. I'm lucky that I'm now totally dependent on the government for disability and food stamps. I'm lucky that my feet burn constantly from the neuropathy. I'm lucky that I'm now so weak that my wife has to open jars for me.

Anyway, that's my list. I'm sure I could sit here and list several more, these are just the ones of the top of my head. Thanks for reading.



edit on 14-10-2013 by Cancerwarrior because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:19 AM
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I would probably ask you if you are experiencing much pain.
Would that be 'off limits' ?



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:24 AM
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butcherguy
I would probably ask you if you are experiencing much pain.
Would that be 'off limits' ?


That's a perfectly acceptable question sir.

Usually (especially with people who are just finding out about their cancer) most cancer patients will talk about their cancer and their treatments because at first its all you can think about. All of a sudden things that you might have thought were problems before your diagnosis become trivial. You know what I remember stressing out about at the time I was first diagnosed? I was worried that I might have to work an extra day that weekend. As soon as the doctor told me to make out a living will it became a non issue.

Talk with them, but most importantly let THEM do the talking. Just listening is really the best thing anyone can do for a cancer patient. You'll probably notice the more they talk, the better they feel.
edit on 14-10-2013 by Cancerwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:30 AM
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I HEAR YOU. I read through your list three times. I kept nodding my head.
I have heard a lot of the same crap. I don't know what is the worst on the list.

I know that, before I got sick, I used to tell people 'everything happens for a reason'.
Now I highly regret having said that. Seriously regret it.
I know that, before I got sick, I used to tell people 'god won't send more than you can handle'.
Now I highly regret having said that. Seriously regret it. That statement is dead wrong.

I know that people ask 'how are you doing'??? But they really don't want to hear the truth.
They want to hear the usual 'fine or better or okay'.
We are told in support group not to tell people the truth when they ask.
But I do anyways. Eventually they stop asking. I can't blame them.
But I"m not going to be a pollyanna just to make them feel better.

The five stages of grief .... every time I think I'm in 'acceptance' I go back to being angry.
I'm done with 'bargaining'. That was a waste of time.
People expect sick folks to go immediately to 'acceptance'.
But everyone goes through the stages at their own pace.
I haven't spoken to my former best friend for 3 1/2 years now.
She thought I was a 'bad christian' because I was angry and trying to bargain with God,
instead of being in 'acceptance' right away. I cut her off. I don't need that crap.

I just got my third diagnosis of cancer in 7 years. Same general area. I'll find out
today or tomorrow when surgery is schedule for (again). But that's not what will kill me.
I have autoimmune with polyneuropathy. Irregular heart beat .. difficulty breathing ..
profound fatigue so that some days just getting to the bathroom from the bed is hard.
(feels like those dementors from Harry Potter .. sucking the life out of you). I have
other issues, but you get the idea. It's all 'progressive' and the cancer rate for those of us
with my autoimmune disease is much higher than the general population. Mostly lymphoma.
But what the heck, we all die of something, right?? I just can think of better ways to 'go'.

I hear you being angry. I am too. Angry that ANYONE has to suffer (not just me). Angry that I did everything right and yet I still got nailed. Angry that little kids get nailed with this stuff and yet the evil S.O.B.s that run the world have good health. Angry that I can't help my family more and that I"m a burden. It plays mental games, doesn't it??

I hear you. That doesn't help. But .... that's my response to your 'rant'.


Side note - You fought and survived melanoma?? that's one of the biggies! My husband had melanoma. They got his early. That's one nasty invention .. melanoma. Only a sadistic SOB could come up with inventing that.
edit on 10/14/2013 by FlyersFan because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:44 AM
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reply to post by Cancerwarrior
 


I appreciate your telling us what NOT to say to someone with cancer.
What I would like to know is what SHOULD we say when a loved one or acquaintance is diagnosed. What can we say or do that would not offend or sound trite. If we truly want to help in whatever way.
Thanks for the informative rant and any other advice you care to give.

Baking soda and weed, huh.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:44 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 





every time I think I'm in 'acceptance' I go back to being angry.


I'm the same way too. I'm angry all the time, even though I don't want to be. I'm angry for all the reasons you mentioned plus many more.




But what the heck, we all die of something, right?? I just can think of better ways to 'go'.


I think alot about the past now. I have alot of time on my hands and not alot to preoccupy myself with so I just think about the past now. I think of old friends, jobs, travels and such, and I realize that's all that I'm really ever going to do. I'll never get to travel anywhere else, or meet anyone new, or do anything exciting at all. It's already been done. I'm 36 now, and with this cancer spreading now to my brain and spinal cord I will be VERY lucky if I live to see 40.

I just finished three weeks of radiation. Two month ago I had surgery to remove two tumors from my spinal cord. Honestly, I'm lucky I can walk. In the last two years I went from being a 6 foot 2 big strong guy to having the body of an old man now. I've only lost about 20 pounds from the radiation but the nausea and fatigue are horrible.




I hear you. That doesn't help. But .... that's my response to your 'rant'.


Actually it made me feel better to read your response. Good luck with your battle fellow warrior.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:54 AM
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reply to post by Neysa
 


I guess really the biggest thing is just to listen to them. Most cancer patients will want to talk about their cancer/treatments, so just let them. If you can listen without being condescending and judgmental in any way its a big plus.

I always liked talking with my uncle when he came and saw me in the hospitol. He likes to hunt/fish and he always had some stories/lies that helped me take my mind off cancer for a few moments. My aunt came with him and knew I liked books on history so she brought me some while I was in the hospitol and we talked about movies for a while. Just treat them like a normal person. Try to touch them if you can in some way like a hug or a handshake. I always found the people like that to be more sincere.

Like I said, death is a subject most people cannot comfortably discuss because the prospect of one's death makes most people uncomfortable. It's like people know they're going to die, but somehow pretend that maybe they won't if they just don't ever talk about it.

Of course it my not be appropriate for everyone, but I use humor to take my mind off things when I feel hopeless. One time a buddy of mine came to see me in the hospitol when I was first diagnosed and asked what they said about my sickness. "They said its Melanoma." I told him. He replied, "Man, I sure am gonna miss you."

It probably would have offended most people, but it made me laugh for a long while after he left.



edit on 14-10-2013 by Cancerwarrior because: (no reason given)


+6 more 
posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 10:59 AM
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Don't talk to people with cancer..

Gotcha.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:00 AM
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Cancerwarrior
I think alot about the past now.

It's natural ..

I'm trying to look at what I"ve still got and use it as much as possible. My husband calls this 'the new reality' and that we have to live with it. But I can tell he's disappointed in how life is turning out. So am I. Anyways ... day by day ...


I have alot of time on my hands and not alot to preoccupy myself with so I just think about the past now.

Yeah ... I'd rather be still volunteering and working with the preschoolers like I was ... but I don't dare go near them and their kid-germs. (even if I had the energy to do so). I have leukopenia issues so that's not a good idea. (although my last blood test showed the white blood cell count just a smidgen over the low end limit ... so that was a huge good thing for me). Instead, I'm doing a lot of online reading (while I still have my eyesight ... I have glaucoma issues) and I post here and elsewhere ....

This will sound strange but what I miss the most .... FOOD.
Three years ago I started this thread ... I WANT!!
I was having a massive food rant ... MASSIVE !!



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:04 AM
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Could I add one more thing to your list??

Them: 'Do you have insurance?'

Me: 'Yes, but it won't kick in for a while"

Them: "Well, since you have insurance, what are you complaining about?"

My husband had a stroke in 2009. since we are a paycheck to paycheck family, I had no funds for the basics after the first couple of weeks. He has accident/dissability ins. through his job, but its a while before it goes into affect.

I know its not related to cancer, but anytime a medical crisis comes up thats long lasting and financially draining, its amazing to me what can be said by well meaning, but ignorant people.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:06 AM
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Thanks for the insight, CW
I will keep all that you said in mind.
Much obliged.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:08 AM
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palmalBlue2
I know its not related to cancer, but anytime a medical crisis comes up thats long lasting and financially draining, its amazing to me what can be said by well meaning, but ignorant people.

I hear you too ... it doesn't have to be cancer for people to say stupid things.

LIke I said, I haven't spoken to my former best friend for 3 1/2 years.
According to her I wasn't a 'good christian' for being angry and trying to bargain with God.
Those are things that nearly every person with a major illness goes through ...
But apparently Christians are not supposed to, according to her anyways.
That's not exactly something a sick person needs to hear.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:12 AM
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reply to post by Cancerwarrior
 

I thank you for your response.
I have been faced with speaking with cancer patients before of course. I try to just talk with them as I would before they got cancer.
I appreciate you letting us who don't know what it is like to have these things brought up to you.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:13 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 





I'm trying to look at what I"ve still got and use it as much as possible. My husband calls this 'the new reality' and that we have to live with it. But I can tell he's disappointed in how life is turning out. So am I.


My wife is the same way. A few years ago I had a good job as a surveyor. Now we struggle to just pay the bills. Disability is all I get. She is looking for work but there's nothing but maybe Walmart or Freds, and here's the kicker....If she gets any kind of job making any more money I will lose my oncologist at LSU. They are a state charity hospital that gives free care to the disabled. I would be screwed without it. I think sometimes she kinda pushes me away because she cries about the cancer all the time and if she distances herself from me she won't think about it as much. I can understand why but still, I wish that she would just be happy. I wish alot that I had just let myself be happier in the past before I got this disease. And did'nt worry so much over stupid crap.




This will sound strange but what I miss the most .... FOOD.


Not strange at all. In fact I just spent the last two hours trying to get down half a cup of fruit smoothie and keep it down. I've been very nauseated since the radiation started three weeks ago. It's like I think I want some food because I feel my body screaming for nutrition, but as soon as I put some in my mouth or smell it its instant stomach sickness. It sucks bad because I live in Louisiana where the food is awesome and the cooks are fat.

I think when this goes away I'm going to make a big pot of seafood gumbo with file....mmmmmmm.

edit on 14-10-2013 by Cancerwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:28 AM
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reply to post by palmalBlue2
 


You're right, it does'nt have to be cancer at all.

I am very lucky that I had some money saved up when I was first diagnosed. I paid my deductible and expenses of staying in Houston when I was there. Now I get free care at a state charity hospitol and I can tell you, its a big difference when you have an insurance card. You become a "mister" so and so when you have insurance.

But still, a very rude thing for your friend to tell you.

One other thing that I almost added to my list was "All that prayer we did must have worked!"

I know people mean well when they say it, and yes, I was praying hard when I was at MD Anderson and told I maybe had just months/weeks to live with how the cancer was spreading. My family was praying hard as well. But the whole ninth floor of that place was full of people that were praying just as hard for their Melanoma diagnosis as I was for mine. I saw families going to the little chapel at the end of the hall every day to pray for their loved ones with tears in their eyes. So what makes me any different? Why did God answer my prayer and leave so many more to die of this crap? There was a 9 year old girl in the room next to me that had the same treatment schedule as I did. Why was I more deserving to live than her? I'm not angry that my prayer was answered, just confused as to why if mine was answered, then why do so many go unanswered?

Not trying to rant at you but it still bothers me.
edit on 14-10-2013 by Cancerwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 11:34 AM
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It is an uncomfortable situation hearing from a friend or new acquaintance they have cancer or a very serious illness. Unless that person is also experiencing something similar they would have no idea what you are going through. There is a compulsion to say something at that moment and a very good chance it would be one of the wrong things to say. I doubt it is a matter of trying to be insensitive or cruel but just a very clumsy response coming from someone that has no idea of the gravity of your situation.

Honestly, pondering on this for a moment, I would have no idea what would be an appropriate response. A gesture of sympathy or a word of optimism or encouragement however inappropriate is probably well-intended but just misses the mark, or worse, could aggravate the situation at times. I wish there were words, gestures, or responses that could help or offer relief but I fear it is beyond any verbalizations that could render any appreciable solace.

Regardless of however clumsy their response will be I doubt any of them wishes you ill-will. This appears to be a time when any words will fail. Is there ever a "right" thing to say?

Deepest sympathies.

edit on 14-10-2013 by Erongaricuaro because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 12:02 PM
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I'm glad you posted this, as I've been wanting to rant about this all day. I'm sick of reading threads and posts about miracle cures from people who have never been diagnosed or who have absolutely no medical experience other than a you tube video they saw.

Basically people with no medical experience rattle off a list of ingredients that will cure your cancer, without knowing anything about you. It's damn right dangerous. They don't recommend any dosages based on height and weight of the patient. Don't have a clue how these ingredients may effect what you are being currently prescribed by trained doctors and oncologists, who have worked with cancer patients for their whole career, just a list of a few different ingredients.

I know a number of ATS members with cancer, all have gone down the traditional medical route and still here to tell the tale. Not too many who have cured themselves with alternatives, normally some anecdotal story of a friend of a friend who once used gu gu berries and are now fit and well.

It's not all a big conspiracy by "big pharma" to knock you off.

Untill you have been diagnosed, you have no frickin idea what course of action you would take.

I'm sure most people have your best interests at heart when making these threads and posts, but it displays a massive amount of insensitiveness, when your trying to deal with things your own way. It's almost like putting the blame on you for not trying out their medically unproven hair brain ideas.

I'd rather people just say, "I'm sorry to hear what your going through" rather than being made to feel I'm not doing my best to want to survive.

I understand its difficult for people to approach the subject, but the last thing people should be doing is posting unproven unscientific methods as a cure. Potentially creating more harm than good.

Eat a healthy diet, don't smoke or drink too much do some exercise and you maybe lucky enough to avoid ever getting the diagnosis, until then keep you magic cures to yourselves.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 12:08 PM
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reply to post by Cancerwarrior
 


You okay mate?
Im here for ya, I know alot of ATS'ers are aswell.
The list seems rather bitter. You have to remember, 'we' have not experienced cancer ourself. In such situations 'we' simply sometimes dont know how to respond or react to the seriousness of cancer. Most of us just want to be nice you know? But we get nervous, it scares us, well me at least.

But hey, U2U me anytime you need a stranger to talk to.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 12:43 PM
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reply to post by Cancerwarrior
 


"If there's anything that I can do to help, please let me know..."

That should be directed to your spouse or family member. Not you. And it should also accompanied by the caveat "within my ability to do so."

But you should also attempt a bit of humor here and there. When people find out devastating news they just can't seem to keep their mouth shut. Many can't deal with the awkward silence.

But good rant and a great lesson for others to learn from.



posted on Oct, 14 2013 @ 12:49 PM
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I have been thinking lately of just how many of us here have had or have cancer or knows someone who does.

Some people feel very awkward and truly don't know what to say or how to say it.

There are so many people who are extremely against traditional methods and tell us never ever go that route. Chemo and radiation has saved millions of lives. The thing is, there is no gaurentee for anyone no matter which method you choose.

People automatically assume that if you eat organic foods and exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle you won't get cancer. Let me tell you all right now, I had a number of women recieving their chemo with me who were utterly shocked that they had cancer because they did everything 'right'.

I have been cancer free for a year but it scares me that it could return again.

For those of you fighting cancer, for those who no longer have hope of survival, my heart and thoughts are with you all. I am always a U2U away if anyone needs to talk.





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