What Not to Say to People Who Have Chronic Health ConditionsAuthor: Diplomat Pharmacy Date: February 06, 2020
Mallory, a Diplomat employee, became a Diplomat patient when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her friends and family reacted to her diagnosis and treatment in many different ways — some helpful, some not. Here, Mallory shares her observations on what you can say to support loved ones who have cancer — and the kind of statements you should avoid.
What are the best things to say — and not say — when someone you care about is facing a rough road ahead? I remember being newly diagnosed, and for that first week anyone could have said anything to me and I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I was in such a daze of appointments and poking and prodding that nothing could have offended me.
It wasn’t until my first hospital stay that I started to feel the words and the way people would look at me. I think the worst was the pity look — I will never forget when one of my mom’s friends walked in my hospital room and just had that giant frown on her face and puppy-dog eyes. I was having a good day and that reminder on her face brought me right back to the tiny, dimly lit room I was stuck in for weeks.
It wasn’t even just her look. It was the way people would speak to me or the things they would say. After months of being locked up in the hospital, I was finally able to go home and be around more people. I was so happy to have other human interactions, but when most people would speak to me, the conversations were strange.
One of my “favorite” lines was the infamous, “My [insert someone they know or barely know] had the same kind of cancer, but they didn’t make it.”
Oh, okay … well, thank you. I guess.
How do you react to that? What do you say when you are internally struggling to not play the 100-questions game with them about every little thing they went through in their treatment to make sure that’s not happening to you? Let me tell you, it’s hard. I struggled with it for years. I still struggle with it from time to time.
I have reached out to fellow survivors and compiled a list of things that you should avoid saying to a cancer patient — and a list of things we’d love to hear.
Things to Avoid
Things to Say
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