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Wonderful things YOU say to cancer survivors (warriors)....

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7948
Joined: Aug 2005

I'm taking from LizzyDavis on the 'stupid things' thread...

I usually open with "Well, I'm here to answer questions, give out hugs, listen to ranting, and just generally be here for whatever makes this easier for you."

Hugs, Kathi

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 877
Joined: Oct 2007

That's a good question! I usually ask what kind, and what stage? I know some people think this is too personal of a question to ask, but if they're the ones who bring it up, then i ask.

I've had such an outpouring of support from my Mother's employees, to my cousins aunt on her other side of the family. Many people i've never even met who have sent me gifts, cards, and always ask about me, even though they don't me. A woman named Sandy, who is a friend of my cousin's other aunt, has been sending me cards and gifts since my diagnosis two years ago. I've known for some time that her own daughter has breast cancer. I just found out a month ago that she is not expected to make it. Sandy never tells me anything about how her daughter is doing. I mentioned in my last letter to her that i knew what was going on, and that i was very sorry, and was thinking about the both of them. Still, she will not mention what's going on. My cousins aunt says it has to do with her beliefs, and that she's accepted that her daughter is going to die, and believes that she will be able to communicate with her, or something like that, when she passes. I don't know why she won't tell me how her daughter is doing if she's okay with it all? I'm afraid her daughter will pass, and i won't know about it to send her my condolensces. I don't know why i got off on this tangent! I guess it seemed like a good time to talk about it.

When i first hear about my friend's, or friend's of my friend's getting a breast cancer diagnosis, i usually will send them a breast cancer bear (or bring it to them). I have not sent one to Sandy. It doesn't feel appropriate to me, probably because she never talks about it. Now that her daughter is not expected to live, i definitely can't send one. Feels even more faux paus.

By the way, no one i know, or anyone i know who knows anyone with cancer, has gotten colorectal cancer! I can't believe breast cancer isn't the number one cancer! It wasn't easy, but I found a cute colorectal cancer bear that i gave to my onc for his birthday last year. The first thing he did when i told him it was the colorectal cancer bear, was turn it upside down and look at it's butt! Then he asked, "what makes it a colorectal cancer bear?". Everyone in the room burst into laughter! I wonder what he was expecting to see on that bear's butt?

Thanks for a great thread, Kathi!

Hugs,
Krista

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Krista,

Maybe she is just protecting you because she is accepting that her daughter isn't going to pull through this time and she doesn't want to come across as negative to you who are in still in it. Maybe it's like bringing up bad cancer juju.

Just a thought.

peace, emily

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 877
Joined: Oct 2007

You might be right, Emily. She seems to be superstitious, so that would make since.

She is such a thoughtful person! Cancer gave me a lot of hope that there still are people who care about other people even if they don't know them!

Hugs!
Krista

thready's picture
thready
Posts: 475
Joined: Sep 2009

It seems like cancer has a kinship thing going. It does not seem to matter what type of cancer but this family has a close bond. From many who have or have had cancer comes that gentle touch, knowing smile and compassion in their expression. They know, they get it. I have found this to be the most heart warming experience since my diagnosis.

I want to know the person. The cancer might be the subject, but there is a person there who has a life to share and I feel blessed if they spend a moment with me.
Jan

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4683
Joined: May 2005

I always liked "I thought you were dead!"

I always like to compare notes as to what they had and what I have, treatments, etc. I have no set answer for this. I guess a "great job" can work.
-phil

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Mother in law knows a woman who's daughter has lung cancer, and when she told me, I asked what treatments they did nowadays for this besides chemo. I also tell people whether they are religious or not that my thoughts will be with them, and I will call them to make sure I can do something, like go to treatments with them, take them out for dinner and movie, just talk like they were normal people and not talk about cancer all the time.. I don't think it's in anything you say to a person that has alot to do with them saying they have cancer, but more of an action you do for them that sure makes a difference.

Hugsss!
~Donna

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 877
Joined: Oct 2007

Love the new look, Phil!! How the heck do you guys get the html's for these things?

Very cute!

Hugs,
Krista

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

What can I do to help you and your family during this time?

It bothers me that we have so many people having chemo and ill with cancer who are alone in the world or whose spouse has died and grown children live far away. I don't know what I would have done if I had to face treatments without my family.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4683
Joined: May 2005

Is this what you say to survivors or to people currently going through cancer or doesn't it make a difference?

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

The title says survivors yet the post implies those going through tx.

You know, the ACS calls anyone with a cancer dx a survivor. 11 million survivors.... I disagree with them on that. To me, a survivor is someone who has beat the beast or is fighting a long term battle and doing well, like YOU.

Hey, if I eat Crackers, does that make me a cannibal?

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7948
Joined: Aug 2005

For me, I think that any day we wake up, we are surviving another day...It brought me so much encouragement...and will to wake up another day! But, whatever, 'survivor' is just a word...no harm meant....

Hugs, Kathi

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4683
Joined: May 2005

To me if someone is IN treatment I would offer different words than if they are no longer in treatment. But that's me!
Of course there was no harm at all Kathi.
It seems that we live in such a world where we have to have a disclaimer on everything we say or write it seems.
Oops, ALMOST everything I meant.
-p

kristasplace's picture
kristasplace
Posts: 877
Joined: Oct 2007

OMG, Diane, the crackers comment was the funniest thing i've heard in a long time! Probably because i didn't get it right off the bat. LOLOLOLOL!!!! Thanks for the "cracker" upper!

Hugs,
Krista

AceSFO's picture
AceSFO
Posts: 230
Joined: Sep 2009

I like to propose specific things I might be able to do to help. E.g. "can I come take your dog out this afternoon?" or "I'd like to come drop off some food on Saturday." I find that people (ourselves included) respond better to something specific rather than to "If there's anything I can do..."

And like Shayenne said it's more about being there and what you do. I try to take the cue from who I'm talking to and be supportive and acknowledge what they're dealing with. Whether it's cancer, ALS or any other serious health situation.

Having said all that, I wouldn't be human if I didn't admit that I know I've said some stupid things too when trying to "say the right thing." Sometimes despite our best intentions the words come out wrong and you think "oh crap - that didn't sound right."

Nice thread Kathi! Thanks!
Adrian

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

on who and what they say, how it's put for me to say anything, I take a cue from the person, and then take it from there. Say it was my good friend, I'd tell her I will be there for what she/he is going through, and make sure I go to the home, and call, so that they know they don't have to ask, or be the one calling, I'd make sure they had rides to the grocery store, groceries in their fridge, but of course I'd always remain upbeat for them, and try to take their mind off having the cancer, and asking if they want to go anywhere, can I take them out, can I help out with the cleaning, I always knew since my mom and dad had cancer, how exhausting and painful it was.

Some people don't just stop at "I Have Cancer" they then just go on and on about what they're doing before you even have a chance to say anything. I met someone in the waiting room who said she had breast cancer, and then went on and on and on about it, with me just sitting there listening, and letting her know how many people are living with it now, and how the treatments have so advanced, but it all depends on what is being said...and how it is said.

If they just say "I have cancer" then stop, I just give them a big ole hug and let them know I am there for them, and to never lose hope, and do mention survivor stories to give them something to strive for. There are miracles!

Hugsss!
~Donna

Mike49's picture
Mike49
Posts: 269
Joined: Nov 2008

When they took me in to the operating room for my liver resection, I was nervous and the OR crew busily setting the instruments, adjusting the lights asking where is the blood if needed. Out of the blue, a young nursing student stepped to the bed side and said "would it help to hold my hand" she held my hand until they put me under. A interesting follow up was she came to the surgical ICU to visit two days later.

Nurses make a difference, a random act of kindnes,

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

Mike you made me cry. That simple act of kindness is so very powerful. Thanks to wonderful nurses out there.

:-)

peace, emily

Moesimo's picture
Moesimo
Posts: 1075
Joined: Jul 2003

I am a cancer survivor and a nurse. I sometimes share my story with patients. I especially like to tell the newbies, I have walked in your shoes and now am doing well. It helps them I think. Just my 2 cents worth.

Maureen

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

Well, I agree with Adrian, I've said my share of stupid things in my life....until you walk in the shoes....I remember the stupid things people said after my miscarriages too but until I had one, I didn't really get just how deeply painful they are.

So when someone shares with me she has cancer and if she hasn't shared what kind, I often ask-not always-and then I listen if she needs to share and process her experience. We often do need to share and just being there to listen sends a message. This happens alot at my juicing workshops--and I know people just need someone to care.

Then I offer my number/email if she ever needs to talk to another survivor.
They are often scared and turning in circles. I remember that feeling so strongly since I was feeling very alone out there (I had no chemo commaraderie) so I just try to be there and not say anything stupid! HA! :-) So I listen and point them in a direction if they ask.

I think the hand holding is so important at this time until they feel empowered to take on the task at hand.

Great thread Kathi to counteract the other one....

peace, emily

AceSFO's picture
AceSFO
Posts: 230
Joined: Sep 2009

This isn't so much about saying something, but just kind of a cool cancer anecdote. A musician in a local orchestra here was dx'd and when she lost her hair from chemo, some of the other musicians shaved their heads in solidarity with her. It was great to see them up on stage, several of them with no hair knowing that it was their way of showing her love and support. I thought it was a very cool thing to do.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7948
Joined: Aug 2005

Although, when I lost mine, I told everyone that I loved the offer, but that I was going to wear caps, scarves, etc, so I wouldn't catch cold...so, if they wanted, they could tuck their hair inside a cap, and have the same effect of support for me...

Hugs, Kathi

amyboston's picture
amyboston
Posts: 92
Joined: Oct 2009

Someone said to me after I told him I had cancer. We talked a bit and he said he would light a candle for me.

The following I thought, but didn't say out loud:

"Make it a big one."

I just want to add that almost always with me if someone says:

" I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers."

that it always
seems to work no matter what mood I am in. A brother and sister I know who attend the same Mass that I go to said they wanted to come over and pray with me. No one ever offered that to me as an adult.

Blessings,
Amy

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Thanks, Kathi! I appreciate the post and responses.

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