Your friend or loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and you don’t know to say – Do I ask them details? Do I tell them that everything will be ok? How do I react?
When I was diagnosed, my friends and loved ones had all sorts of different reactions. Some cried, while others were tough and assured me that I was going to be ok. Some dropped off food, while others would send me a daily text to tell me that they were thinking of me.
It’s a delicate situation and often can be uncomfortable. You don’t know what to say or what NOT to say. Here are some helpful tips:
The biggest question I found that my loved ones had, was surrounding chemotherapy. Most people (myself included!) did not know what chemo looked like and it made them nervous. Once I explained how chemo looked for me, I found my friends and family wanting to take turns to take me for treatment. It became the social outings that I desperately needed, chatting, laughing, and having lunch. Everyone found my lack of patience amusing, and I would constantly press my call button to move onto the next step of my meds. Most importantly, the energy on the chemo ward made a world of difference. It was not somewhere that was scary and sad, rather a place of warmth and love.
It is okay to not know what to say. Even if your exact words are, "I don't know what to say but I love you." One of my biggest fears was that I would be left behind - that my friends and coworkers will go on with their lives and forget about me. I will leave you with this quote that struck a chord, and a copy of a text message from my teenage cousin when he found out that I was sick.
"The worst thing someone said to me was nothing at all."