7 Things A Cancer Survivor Never Really wants to Hear

2 Mins read

Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by cancer – it touches us all in so many different ways, whether it's a family member, a friend, or a work colleague. Most unexpectedly, sometimes it is ourselves. Only then do we learn how misguided sympathy may cause further hurt and anxiety to a person in the midst of the worst time of their life. Knowing what to say can be difficult, but it is important to be mindful of what hurts and what helps.

  1. “It's so common”

This just trivializes the struggle the person went through, and while cancer might be 'common,' it doesn't feel that way to those who have been affected by it. It feels extremely personal.

  1. “I have a friend who-“

Once, the woman checking my mom (who had been in the midst of chemotherapy) out in the variety store, after seeing that my mother was bald, went off on the diatribe about a woman she knew who did chemo and then passed away. Negative anecdotes such as this blow my mind in their sheer insensitivity.

  1. “Everything happens for any reason”

-I call bullshit on this one. Sometimes sh*tty things happen for no reason at all. That's life, folks.

  1. “It might be worse”

Has this statement helped anyone, ever? Literally just about anything could be made 'worse' but that doesn't lessen how much your own situation sucks. Also, sometimes you just need to acknowledge another person's struggle – what they are going through is awful.

  1. “What stage have you got?”

Some people, strangely, turn cancer right into a competition. If you have stage one, someone will say “My aunt has stage 3.” Illness is not a competition (and it's strange that you will find said at all).

  1. “You look fine”

No one should have to prove that they are ill. Cancer, as well as many other diseases, presents itself in all sorts of ways. Not everyone that has cancer is bald. Not everyone who’s sick looks sick.

  1. “It will make you stronger”

This is like saying to someone who has been shot to ignore their current pain because it will- uh- make them stronger one day? Sometimes pain is simply pain, as terrible as that could sound.

Sometimes it is the simple things that help the most, like just letting that individual know that you are there for them when they need you. If you don't know what to say, “I'm so sorry you're going through this,” is definitely a safe place to land. The best thing you can do when someone, an unfamiliar person or an old friend, a loved one, tells you that they have cancer will be mindful of what you say. Inform them that they are supported.

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