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    10 Things You Don't Say To Someone With Cancer

    We need hope, not blind optimism.

    1. “My [insert someone you know who died of cancer] passed away from cancer.”


    Please don’t. How about telling us who didn’t die of cancer?

    2. Post-chemo: “Are you in remission?”


    No. We are supposed to be cancer free now.

    If you look up “remission,” it means that it’s still in your body; it’s just not showing itself. I recently asked a friend who also had cancer, “When do you stop worrying that it will come back?” Her answer: “I’ll let you know.” She had cancer over ten years ago.

    I didn’t go through 28 chemo therapies to be reminded of the odds. Instead, try asking: “How long have you been cancer free?” (Uplifting, encouraging, validating.)

    3. We promise you won’t catch our cancer.


    This isn't really a don't-say-this-to-a-cancer-patient one, but it's very important. You won't catch our cancer, so please don’t avoid us or try to keep your distance. We still need hugs and love.

    4. “Can/will it come back?”


    Sigh. Don't you think we're already asking ourselves this question? We don't need you asking too.

    5. “So...what are your chances?”


    You'd be surprised at how often I heard this. Please don’t do this to anyone.

    6. “Everything will be okay.”


    Although we all hope for this, we just don’t know. Not only does it sort of discount the weight of the situation, but it also seems like a conversational cop out.

    7. “Will you lose your hair?”


    Yeah, probably. Anything else?

    8. “You don’t look sick.”


    Thank you?

    9. “Does it run in your family?”


    The question is unnecessary. It runs in lots of families, but what's the point of asking? Does that somehow make it better? Or okay?

    10. “What stage are/were you?”

    This might not seem like a big deal, but asking what stage we are/were is a very personal question. It’s almost like asking, “Did you make it to the doctor soon enough?” And what if we didn’t? Again, what difference does it make to know?

    Will you treat us differently depending on what stage? And what facial expression are you going to show us if it’s a later stage? Or earlier stage? Will it be horror or relief? Either way, it sucks.

    More than anything we crave genuine conversation and to be treated normally. We don't want forced, blind optimism, but rather true connections that help us maintain some kind of grasp on normal.

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