Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Do you Say to Someone Diagnosed with Cancer?

It's hard really to know what to say to anyone who has gone through any kind of hardship. You never know what to say and you always feel like it comes out wrong. When I was diagnosed my doctor was very positive about me being cured. I was given the high statistics and I felt pretty good about getting better. The pregnancy was very scary but honestly I tried not to dwell on those thoughts. I stayed positive. I still have no idea how I did it. I did though and I think I could do it again.

I got a lot of comments after my diagnosis but a few stood out. I was on the phone with a family member when she handed the phone to a family friend who pretty much started crying into the phone and saying she'd looked up information on the Internet and it wasn't good. It was so bad. I felt like I had to comfort her. She didn't have the facts right but this was immediately after my diagnosis. I noticed people will treat you like you are already dead. Some people stopped talking to me at all. I knew some were worried because it took a lot out of me. I panted and you could hear me having trouble breathing but I really felt like some people were scared because they thought I was dying. I never looked at myself like I was dying unless others treated me that way.

I really did need to hear from friends and family though. You may think a person diagnosed just wants to be alone but for me that was so far from the truth. I wouldn't take calls if I didn't feel up to it. If I took the call it meant I wanted it...or maybe even needed it. I needed comfort, love, support. It all made a great deal of difference. Most people would call my husband and get updates from him. I would drill him each day about who called and what they said. Knowing that people cared gave me that much more strength. Don't ever talk to someone with cancer like they are dying, or talk down to them like you feel so sorry for them. My hubby did the best thing. He told me I was getting better and that was that. I couldn't say what if. I had no choice in the matter according to him. It always made me chuckle. It also made me stronger.



ImitationAngel said...

Sometimes people don't know how to react to someone who has incurable disease such as cancer. With my two situations I had to learn very quickly how to react. Of course a person wants to say I'm sorry or ask if there is anything they can do but I noticed that most people don't want to hear that.

One thing that does irritate me is that people will disappear almost as if you're contagious. If just one supporting person stayed throughout the whole ordeal then you know you have a good support team.

Amy Lilley Designs said...

My oldest friend from childhood passed away 5 years ago this December from lung cancer ...from the time she was diagnosed, until she passed, we became so extra-ordinarily close...there were days that I would comfort her and there were days that she would comfort me..I never did anything but talk to her, to her heart and it was a huge life lesson in how to talk to someone w/ cancer. Your point is so well taken, but not everyone can handle it, and that's very hard. I am just really glad that you are doing so well and have so beautifully put your experience into words that WE CAN FEEL onto your blog...holding you and your beautiful family in my prayers...blessings, blessings...Amy

Sandi said...

you are right Amy. Some people can't handle it. I probably was one of those before I got sick. It is hard to really feel both sides once you are the one who got sick. I really do think it's important to comfort those that are dealing with a loved one who is sick because it is VERY hard to be caring for, or a relative/friend to someone who is so sick. I know my husband was very stressed and worried. I didn't mind people saying they were sorry to long as it wasn't said like I was dying. I think the one that I never knew how to answer was the very low spoken "so how are you?" Sometimes they were referring to the cancer, other times not. I found it hard to know for sure what to say or what was expected of me to say.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing with us from your perspective. How very often people like to say they understand; but out of goodwill. The truth is, they can never really understand unless they are the one going through it. From your writing, it dawned upon me that some people do viewed cancer patients like they are dying or feel sorry for them.

It didn't occur to me that I might view cancer patients the same way too. I must correct my perspective too.

Pardon me for saying this, some people who stayed away may not necessary mean they don't care. Like what imitationangel said, they might not know how to react or handle. From a book which I read previously, they may thought that you need to be alone because that is how they want others to treat them if it happens to them. However, if they know that you need support, love and care, I believe they will do it.

Sandi said...

you're right...I know. Some people stay away BECAUSE they don't know what to say or do. I think it's just too hard for them. I guess it always sort of hurt my feelings. I felt like hey, I was more scared than they were! lol Then again my hubby was terrified and I can never really grasp exactly how hard it was on him. It's just so different on each side. It's hard to know what to do. I just know you cannot go wrong showing love and support and just showing they ARE on your mind. You aren't just going out there living life, ignoring them and not thinking about them. I felt alone trapped in bed missing out on everything. It really does help to know people are concerned. I never minded concern, or people being sad. I just couldn't handle people thinking I'd die because it scared me.

Mizé said...

Hi. I really enjoyed reading your post, it was something I was asking myself for some time. That was the reason I didn´t comment before. I was reading your posts and thinking to myself: "What can I comment, I don´t know what to say" and specially because I´m a stranger.
My sister in law was diagnosed breast cancer two years ago, I didn´t know what to say to her because she closed herself in a shell, and that didn´t helped much.
All the best, Mizé.

Leanne said...

Never thought about this. Maybe because I've been blessed and never had to. Thanks for the thoughts and for giving me something to think about.

The Grandpa said...

When I was diagnosed with cancer I was blessed ti have my wife by my side. It was stressful for both of us, but she helped me in so many ways. It was good that you had your husband and he was so supportive. Thank you for sharing.