Cancer is a very ugly and terrifying word that can change a person’s life in an instant. For them it can be quite literally a death sentence, When you first hear the news about a friend or a loved one who has been diagnosed with this monstrosity it is difficult to know what to say to bring your loved one comfort and show your support. Along with making a vehicle donation to the Cancer Research Institute here at Donate a car, you can help your love one by following these guidelines on what to say and what not to say to someone who is dealing with cancer.
“I’m here for you. We’ll get through this together.”
Nobody can truly predict the outcome of a cancer patient. There are many ways it could turn out and the person going through is mostly scared about what will happen to them and how painful and lonesome the journey will be. They need to know that you will be there for them no matter how hard things get. Avoid saying things like, “It’s going to be okay” because truth is you don’t know that for certain. Saying things like that makes it sound like you are brushing aside their struggle and that it is no big deal to you. They need to know that it is a big deal to you and that you truly care about the way that person is feeling.
“How are you holding up throughout all this?”
Your loved one will experience days of hope and days of despair throughout their fight and they would love to know that someone cares about their feelings during those days. Avoid saying things like, “I know how you feel” because unless you’ve actually been in their shoes you have no idea how they feel. Asking them instead to tell you how they feel shows that the situation really is about them and that you aren’t afraid to know what’s really going on their life.
“What are your concerns, worries, stressors, etc?”
There is a lot going on in the minds of cancer patients and they have all the right in the world to be scared, worried and stressed out right now. Yes, there are a lot of people and books that say that stress can worsen the chances of recovery from cancer, but think about. If someone comes up to you and says, “Just relax. Stop worrying so much” you response would probably be, “YOU try relaxing when you’re on the brink of death and let me know how it goes.” Seriously, if you really want to help your loved one relax then try asking them specific questions so that you can find solutions to their fears. If they are afraid to go to sleep, have someone be in the same room as them so that they feel safe.
“No matter what happens, you are still amazing.”
Yes, you want to be optimistic and encouraging but when things really are spiraling downward in the life of someone you love, all they want is to know you’re there for them. Avoid phrases like, “Keep fighting.” “You can beat this” “Don’t give up.” These kinds of phrases puts a lot of pressure on a person to think a certain way of positivity only to be slapped in the face with the harsh reality that they are not going to survive. Yes, there are people who swear they were healed of cancer just because they willed the cancer to go away. This is not a sure thing. People still die from cancer even though they were absolutely certain they wouldn’t. Be positive with your loved one. Support them in the choices they make with treatments but don’t treat them like an athlete who, if their condition worsens, are considered failures in their fight against cancer.
Sometimes the best thing we can say is nothing at all. If your loved just wants to vent, yell or cry then let them let it out. Bottling up emotions makes things worse, so encourage them to say what’s on their mind and offer a hug, a hand to hold, a listening ear or whatever they need. Avoid hushing them up or telling them to stop overreacting and just let them express their feeling and frustrations to you. Though it may be difficult to watch your friend or loved one break down, allowing them to do so will strengthen your relationship with them and prove to them that you truly, truly care.
“How do you feel about the chemotherapy or radiation being done?”
It is so important, once again, to ask about your loved one’s feelings especially during and after treatments. What you feel and what they feel can be completely different. Although you might feel relieved about their treatments being done they might feel worried about the challenges for the future. Check with them before planning anything celebratory and let them talk out how they feel about where they are at right now.
While cancer can bring a lot of sorrow and devastation to friends and family members, remember that the person with the cancer is the one who needs extra love and support. Remember to focus on their needs and their emotions. Take advantage of the many things you can say and do to help your loved one throughout this experience. Remember to also be sensitive in what you say so that you don’t hurt, offend or make things harder on your loved one. They will love and appreciate the effort you up forth and they will be impeccably grateful to have you by their side as they face the challenges of cancer.