One of the hardest things to do is to talk to someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. How are you supposed to know what to say? If you haven’t had cancer, how are you supposed to know what they need or how you can help? After all, maybe the easiest thing to do is just to disappear for a while and see what happens. Or maybe it would be easier to just disappear altogether especially if you don’t feel that close to the person or you think it would be easier for you to do so. Well, while avoidance may be easier for you and you know of plenty of situations where that has occurred, how are you going to face yourself for having done that to another person? How would you feel if someone did that to you?
I imagine that if you are still reading this, you have no intention of bolting and are looking for some answers. Listening to the person is probably one of the easiest and safest things to do. Let the person talk. If they aren’t talking, asking questions about how they are feeling, what they need, what they want, how you can help, etc. may be the best route to take. But, there are certain things that you should never say to someone with breast cancer.
1. I Know What You Are Going Through
You have no idea what that person is going through. Each of us is the product of our own life experiences and how we were raised. Even if you are a breast cancer survivor, there is no way to know how someone else receives and processes the news when they are given a diagnosis of breast cancer. Therefore, despite your own experiences, you can’t know or equate your experience to someone else’s experience.
2. This Is What You Should Do
This one surprises me. Even a doctor who is not associated with a particular case would advise a breast cancer patient and/or make decisions for that person. If the doctor has completely reviewed the information regarding the medical information that has been provided about the cancer diagnosis, the relationship between a doctor and a friend as opposed to a doctor who is also intimately engaged with a patient is completely different. Therefore, it only follows that if you are not a doctor, there is no way that you would know what another person should do and therefore should never indicate that you do.
3. My Friend Was Diagnosed With The Same Thing And…
This is a big “So What?” Because you may have had a friend who you helped through a cancer journey from start to finish, that experience has nothing to do with the current patient’s situation. Your friend may have been given particular instructions with regard to her care that do no relate to the type and treatment recommended to the person sitting right next to you now. The only time that such a statement like this can be made is if the present patient is looking for perhaps an answer to deal with something like the bad taste in her mouth from chemo and you have a friend who shared her own solution in the past.
4. You Will Be Fine
Under no circumstances should these 4 words ever be uttered to a breast cancer patient under any circumstances unless you are God. You have no idea what a person’s outcome will be and making such a statement completely destroys your credibility and your friend’s confidence in anything else you may have to say.
5. Just Read These Inspirational Quotes Every Day
Although you may have the best intentions, it is pretty hard to think that an inspirational statement will have a positive impact on a person’s pain or their dealing with how to pay the bills. While I am one who loves to read and share positive quotes, I know that they do not fix every problem or provide the answers to all of our questions. Therefore, these should be put aside until such time, if ever, someone wishes to read and think about them.
These are just a few suggestions that I believe will give you a pretty good idea of what not to say or offer up to a breast cancer patient but the bottom line is that it is easier to think about what you are saying rather than figuring out how to fix a situation after you have said something that you might regret. And when you don’t know what to say, just say nothing. You will never have to get yourself out of a sticky situation that way.
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