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Way back when I wasn’t dealing with cancer yet, there was a female colleague who got diagnosed with it. Her condition was a hush-hush topic around the office, although everyone seemed to be up-to-date about her well-being. People became extra caring to this person as well, to the point that they didn’t allow her to carry the laptop bag or a bunch of files.
As for me, well, I didn’t talk to the colleague much. The ultimate reason was that I had no clue of what to say to a cancer patient. Was it cool to ask if she was okay when I already knew that she’s far from feeling that way? Would she become offended if I compliment her new hat that covered the baldness brought by radiation therapy?
Ever since experiencing almost the same things that that person had to go through to beat the C word, though, I can now tell you the things that cancer patients don’t want – or need – to hear from anyone.
Advice Regarding Activities They Should Have Done To Prevent It
The initial topic you should avoid is the one that involves the stuff that the ill folks should have or have not done to thwart the illness. You don’t have to become Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All and enumerate the things they did wrong in the past. That is their doctor’s job, not yours.
The best subject matter to focus on is the activities they can do now to keep the cancer cells from spreading. You may also get out of your way to search for those happenings on the patient’s behalf so that they realize that you genuinely care.
Questions About Survival Rate
Furthermore, you need to stop yourself from asking about the number of months or years that patients of a specific type of cancer have before succumbing to the disease entirely. That will be no different from inquiring when you’ll have to send flowers to their funeral.
There are better questions to throw than that, you know. “What foods can you have?” “Do you want me to accompany you on your next treatment?” “Would you like me to drive you home today?” As long as you don’t ask regarding their survival rate, it’s all good.
Being Compared With The Person They’re Talking To
It’s an unspoken rule that you should never compare your previous health scares to that of another human being who deals with cancer when you have never had that disease. For one, you won’t be able to fathom the pain they experience before, during, and after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The treatment may only go on for a few weeks, but the side effects might still be apparent even if a year already passed.
It’s also rude to speak of the possibility of getting misdiagnosed, especially when the fellow has blood cancer. The symptoms of leukemia, for instance, are as bright as the day since the bruises appear in odd places and wounds don’t heal immediately.
Finally, you ought to keep in mind that cancer patients want don’t want to hear nothing from you. They may have thought long and hard before deciding to tell you the scope of their health condition. The least you can do is react to it in any way.
When you choose to stay silent because you don’t know how to comfort that individual, it’s likely for them to take your speechlessness wrongly. They might assume that you feel disgusted or that you are already coming up with a plan to cut ties with them. Though both ideas are far from reality, they won’t know the truth if your mouth remains shut.
Thus, even if you can’t form coherent sentences after hearing the unfortunate news, you shouldn’t forget to say something. Anything is better than nothing, after all.
You can’t always expect people to know the right words to say in front of an ill individual. Cancer is known as a terrifying illness; that’s why some folks tend to commit the mistakes above. Despite that, in case you don’t wish to have to forgive your naïve friends, relatives, and officemates all the time, it won’t hurt to inform them in advance of the things you prefer not to hear from them. Ever.