Things to NEVER say to a cancer patient

I have read several lists of things to never say to a cancer patient and while most of them, I can kind of agree with… most I find to be neither here nor there.  They say don’t say things like “You look good” or “You’re a hero”.  Honestly, I don’t get it… those are great things to hear… while I hear them a LOT and often take it for granted… it is appreciated.  There are however; other things that people say, that… I just don’t get.

The obvious first thing to never say is “You look like crap”… because, yep, I might look like crap and I feel even worse and that is why I look like crap.  I am too tired to make an effort even though, I know it would make me feel better.  Thanks for being honest and all… but, this just isn’t the time.  Luckily for me, not a single person has ever said this.  Even when I felt my worst.

If the cancer patient in reference happens to have breast cancer, informing them that their new boobs, “aren’t even real boobs” is completely unnecessary… I get it, I know better than you… I can feel the difference… every single day.  I never wanted fake boobs… but I got them and in the end, they will look awesome… Putting me down is completely unnecessary.

Walking up to a complete stranger who has a shaved head and saying, “I used to have hair like that but, mine was because I had a brain tumor”.  Maybe this specific saying was meant in a different way but, unless you know what someone has been through, don’t assume they do something simply to be cool.  I wanted to hug this person because I was thankful she made it through her brain tumor but, I also didn’t know how to respond because I think she thinks I just like having a shaved head.

This last thing is the thing that hurt me most… from anyone… and I will never say who said it but, I will remember it for the rest of my life.  Saying to someone with Stage 1 cancer “I heard on the radio that if it is caught at Stage 1, there is a 100% chance of survival, so it really wasn’t that bad.” is never ok.  The overall focus of this specific conversation was how tired I was after the worst 5 months of my life… but, I had a 100% chance of survival so… whatever… I’m bitter…

If you have never experienced chemo or surgery, you can’t possibly imagine.  Yes, my situation could be so much worse but, I am happy to be alive. I am lucky it was caught early.  I may not actually be a hero… I actually just did what was required for me to survive but, if someone wants to say I am… I’ll take it.  Thinking back, I recently told, Scott, my husband, that I can honestly see why some cancer patients commit suicide.  It is hard… You feel like a burden on everyone you know… You are tired… and you just don’t want to do it anymore… and for those with no end in sight, I can see why they would feel like it was the only option (I can also see reasons to live, and if you feel this way, let’s chat… or chat with someone you love and maybe we can find you a reason to stick around!).

So, if you have nice things to say… thank you… If not… remember what yo’ mama said:

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”


2 thoughts on “Things to NEVER say to a cancer patient

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  1. Chelle, cancer at any stage is traumatic…to deal with it automatically makes you a hero! Your are beautiful and awesome every day!

    Now…can I just say that some people should be required to wear a sign on their forehead that says, “Warning: Often when my mouth opens, stupid rolls out! Be prepared to ignore me!!!”


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