Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cancer: What should you say?

As promised, in one of my first posts: What should you say to someone who has cancer? I've heard variations of all of these, and I'm sure I've said a few of them, myself.

Do's

"I'm not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care."

"I'll keep you in my thoughts."

"Please let me know if I can help."

"I (or a family member) survived cancer."

"How are you doing?"


Don'ts

"My grandmother died of breast cancer."
(I'm sorry for your loss, but this is really not the time to share that with me.)

"I'm sure you'll be fine."
(Thanks, but don't minimize the seriousness of my diagnosis)

"My friend went through radiation. It was a horrible ordeal."
(Like I'm not dreading it enough)

"You look really pale."
(Oh, I didn't know I look like hell)

"I can't wait to stop having my period." or "It's just a breast."
(Just because you feel a certain way about your body doesn't mean I feel the same way)

The last one is really a head-scratcher. Some women have made comments to me that seemed to reveal a dislike or repugnance toward their own bodies. That's unfortunate, but I don't appreciate the assumption that I share those feelings. However, unlike one of the sources cited below, I'm not offended by people telling me I have a nicely shaped head. And, I wasn't really offended by the patron who told me "It (my wig) is cuter than your real hair!" She's a weirdo, so I would have been disappointed with anything less obnoxious.


American Cancer Society. What Should I Say to the Person Who Has Cancer?

AlixNorth.com. What Not to Say to Someone Diagnosed With Cancer

Chemo Chicks. Excuse Me?

4 comments:

Linda said...

I like the chemo chicks site. my psychologist survived breast cancer. she had it when i was seeing her.

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

I like them too, although I draw the line at getting henna designs on my bald head.

Writer said...

I got my first henna kit and stencil from Chemo Chicks. Is your BCH the same as my Fancy Hospital? Is your Dr. G the same as my erstwhile Dr. G? I had someone tell me, before my mastectomy: "Oh, you'll like this story." And she went on to tell me about her breast reduction surgery. I was at a loss about why I would like her story. Her story was about elective surgery--it had nothing to do with losing a fucking breast due to disease.
Cancer Bitch, aka slwisenberg@sbcglobalnet

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

Yes, I believe that Ye Olde Cancer Floor is at the same hospital. And the same Dr. G, apparently.