10 things not to do or say to a person with cancer

Hey hey Diva friends!

In my last post, I shared 22 ways to support a cancer patient and today I’m going to share….what NOT to do! Many of these are things that people will offer or say from a sincere and kind place in their heart…but please…..just don’t.

Read the list below and say something like this instead! ;)  Click the picture to buy this or other cancer empathy cards!

Read the list below and say something like this instead! ;)

Click the picture to buy this or other cancer empathy cards!


Things not to say (or do)

  1. “Your hair will grow back!” - we know. That doesn’t make it less traumatizing!

  2. “This is all happening for a reason” - Again, we know. But maybe we don’t. And until we KNOW the reason or can glean some life lessons from it…this comment hurts.

  3. “You’re so lucky! This one is treatable!” - Just because Hodgkin’s is a “curable” cancer doesn’t mean the treatment is less toxic, less painful or less difficult.

  4. Don’t offer them an MLM product or magic solution that only you must know about. (caveat here: there are some valid alternative therapies and nutritional supplements and approaches that can significantly help a cancer patient. But please don’t reach out to a stranger offering them an MLM product that they purchase from you. Close friends and family are the only ones that this is an appropriate offering from and even then there is an appropriate way to offer it.)

  5. Don’t hook them up with your friend so-and-so who had the same kind of cancer. Unless you’ve already asked if that is something they would appreciate. (Everyone wants to help and they may already have connected with 5 other people!)

  6. Don’t say this will bring them closer in their walk with God, or that cancer is a learning opportunity. It will, and it. an be, but depending on where they are emotionally this can come across as very insensitive.

  7. Don’t ask them why they chose the treatment they did.

  8. “You don’t look sick” - gee thanks. I look amazing while I feel like poop!

  9. “This is just part of your journey” - not helpful.

  10. Don’t share a 10 minute story about your cousin who had the same cancer and they are just great now! We know you want to be encouraging, but when we are in the middle of processing a diagnosis and thinking about what to do, how to stay healthy, and what the next few months will look like…hearing random stories of people we have never met who may have had a different staging, be a different age, or sex, or even a completely different cancer….can be frustrating. I’ll be honest - our brains shut down for the first few months simply because we are in shock!

And there you have it! 10 things that would be really easy to say in the NICEST of ways but….don’t really sound good to someone facing the scariest part of their life so far!! Everyone’s journey is different, and sometimes encouraging stories can be encouraging…but they can also be really annoying because the person you are telling this to, knows that their story is unique and they DON’T know the outcome yet.

Try to back off of advice and just let them know it’s ok to feel however they feel. Scared, angry, sad, nervous….and you are there for them no matter what! They will really appreciate you all the more :)

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