What not to say to a Cancer Patient

Calleen
Calleen Member Posts: 411
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hi all... I've been slowly recovering and not been on here since last week when I posted that I woke up.. It's been really tough!!! but today I feel fabulous!!! I wanted to share with you all a few things a well meaning friend said to me while in the hospital...

The morning after my surgery my friend stopped by on her way to work..(this was not my BFF) I was in ICU and had I think 24 or so things attached to my body doing all kinds of different things... Well in comes my friend and she's looking over all my attachments. the one that caught her attention was something called a cue ball it was attached in my belly delivering meds somewhere. It came in this small black pouch that looked like a fanny pack.. it had cue ball written on it.. so my friend says "Oh WOW you've got the cue ball. We are in the process of suing the maker of this device for malpractice. a patient died while using this" "But I think your safe" ... Okay..... now I'm a very very very big freak when it comes to meds of any kind and at the moment I was still under all kinds of different drugs for it to register. But later after the comment she made kept creeping back into my brain I started to have panic attacks!!! I could not calm down or sleep after that at all.. She came back the next day after I had a bad reaction to a strong antbiotic and said "I knew it was too strong for you" and again totaly upset me to the point that I was convinced I was dying... Thank God my Daughter was there through the night with me or I don't know how I would have made it... I was terrified of leaving the hospital and terrified of staying.. My Doctor came by and I told her about what my friend said and she reassured me I was "JUST FINE" then sent me home!!

I am wondering if I should talk to her about what she said to me and how much she upset me... also have any of you had well meaning friends say things upset you???
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Comments

  • elm3544
    elm3544 Member Posts: 748
    So sorry you went through
    So sorry you went through this. I think you should bring it up to her.
    This is beyond someone blurting something out when they don't know what to say.
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    Aside from THAT, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play????
    I go back to a couple of previous thoughts; One, "Ya can't fix stupid", and Two, "with friends like this, who needs enemies?"

    I have no idea why people say the things they do! If I had a dime for every off the wall comment, I would be a wealthy, wealthy woman! :-)

    Continue to talk to people you trust; your medical team, and of course your CBFF ( cyber-BFF!) And as much as you can, disregard the rest!!

    Hugs,
    Claudia
  • cats_toy
    cats_toy Member Posts: 1,462 Member
    that does come under the category "clueless"
    and talking to her about it would probably be like telling your dog to stop sniffing butts.
    Sorry you had to go through that, but not surprised. Glad you are feeling better now.
    Cat
  • Eil4186
    Eil4186 Member Posts: 949
    I agree w/ Cat, she probably
    I agree w/ Cat, she probably wouldn't get it if you discussed her remarks with her. I am sorry you had to go through such stress because of her. And after all the worry you had before the surgery too. Makes me mad. Why would someone say those things, and what good did she think she was doing?
  • Akiss4me
    Akiss4me Member Posts: 2,188
    hi Calleen
    Glad your home, posting and heading towards recovery. I pretty much agree with everyone else. She sounds totally clueless and absolutely lacking in bedside manners.
    I have been fortunate so far as not to have experienced upsetting comments from anyone yet. That may be that I have chosen only to surround myself with positive people?
    If and when I experience a similar situation, I think I will forgive them for their ignorance, because that will be the best thing I could do for myself.
    :O) Pammy
  • Marcia527
    Marcia527 Member Posts: 2,729
    I look at who made the
    I look at who made the comment and adjust my feelings accordingly. Some comments get sent to the trash area of my head never to be thought of again. Unless I feel I can tell someone and get a good laugh.
  • mlmjt1
    mlmjt1 Member Posts: 537
    Hi calleen
    Yeah I basically agree with everyone else...but if she is a friend of yours and youre planning on continuing this friendship then she needs to know just how the cancer mind works...one comment can put us thru anxiety and sleepless nights for a long time. She needs to know that or it will keep happening...just tell her this whole ordeal has made you super sensitive to anxiety and to be careful what she says to you.

    Let her know that we all feel the same way.

    Take care
    Linda T
  • elm3544
    elm3544 Member Posts: 748
    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me
  • lanie940
    lanie940 Member Posts: 490
    OH, I love those! I only
    OH, I love those! I only want to hear positive comments. My best friend had BC at age 25, that was 33 yrs ago. She is fine today and gave me the encouragement I needed and lots of prayers. That's what I needed. She's the best.
  • rjjj
    rjjj Member Posts: 1,822 Member
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    Can't fix stupid
    Sometimes I wonder if people could really be that stupid or if they take some kind of perverse pleasure in uttering such ridiculos comments.I am glad your home now.. keep us posted on how your doing, and I loved the list Elm.
    hugs, jackie
  • Alexis F
    Alexis F Member Posts: 3,598
    Sorry she upset you. No,
    Sorry she upset you. No, noone has said anything to me that was upsetting. I have been blessed to have a great support system with my husband, family and friends.

    I don't know what if anything I would say to her.

    This is your call I guess.

    So sorry again.

    ☺Lex☺
  • outdoorgirl
    outdoorgirl Member Posts: 1,565
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    When I was in for
    my mammo recently,the woman I was waiting with(also a bc survivor)told me that she ate right and exercised,so she was convinced that her bc was brought on by stress. I'm hoping that I'm not insulting anyone here(everyone is free to feel how they do),but I do not have a poker face and it was very hard to keep a straight face after she said that. When my husband and I were on our way home after-I told him what she had said. He said if that was the case then I should never have gotten bc because I'm so laid back!
    So even we bc survivors can say strange things sometimes!
  • Kylez
    Kylez Member Posts: 3,761 Member
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    Love the list Elm!
    Love the list Elm! Thanks!

    ♥Kylez♥
  • susie09
    susie09 Member Posts: 2,930
    Alexis F said:

    Sorry she upset you. No,
    Sorry she upset you. No, noone has said anything to me that was upsetting. I have been blessed to have a great support system with my husband, family and friends.

    I don't know what if anything I would say to her.

    This is your call I guess.

    So sorry again.

    ☺Lex☺

    I am so sorry that what she
    I am so sorry that what she said upset you. People just can be so stupid sometimes.

    ♣Susie♠
  • jnl
    jnl Member Posts: 3,869 Member
    Eil4186 said:

    I agree w/ Cat, she probably
    I agree w/ Cat, she probably wouldn't get it if you discussed her remarks with her. I am sorry you had to go through such stress because of her. And after all the worry you had before the surgery too. Makes me mad. Why would someone say those things, and what good did she think she was doing?

    Sorry you got hurt. I also
    Sorry you got hurt. I also agree that she probably wouldn't even get it if you talked to her. People can be so insensitive sometimes.

    Leeza
  • survivorbc09
    survivorbc09 Member Posts: 4,374 Member
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    I love what Jackie said,
    I love what Jackie said, Can't fix stupid. That is so true.

    Very sorry for what she said to you. Forgive her stupidity.

    And, I love the list too Elm. :)
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    Too funny, Elm! Thanks for the laughs!
    Oh no Elm! You mean that light at the end of my tunnel really is a freight train??? And all this time I thought it was the chrome from Lance's bike shining as an encouraging beacon...damn! I am so depressed now! I wonder if it's too late to add a sprinkling of curry to my oatmeal this morning. And with my Pollyanna Personality now in the toilet, I hope I remember to look both ways before crossing the street. I so don't need to get creamed by a bus as the icing on my cake!

    It isn't that I ever want anyone to walk in my cancer shoes; but I think that's pretty much the only "cure" for inappropriate comments! It reminds me of the other kind ( sure!) saying:

    "Gosh, for a fat girl, you sure don't sweat much!"

    Hugs,
    Claudia
  • m_azingrace
    m_azingrace Member Posts: 399
    susie09 said:

    I am so sorry that what she
    I am so sorry that what she said upset you. People just can be so stupid sometimes.

    ♣Susie♠

    Every time I start feeling a
    Every time I start feeling a little down, I come here, and find threads like this! I eat right, don't smoke, don't drink, don't have stress, I have a great attitude [everyone says so], don't gamble, jaywalk or pick my nose [not much, anyway]...and I still have BC.
    Yep, we can't fix stupid, although we can hope to cure ignorance. Fortunately we have one another to bounce these things off of, laugh about them and move on. All you guys are great!
  • rainbow4
    rainbow4 Member Posts: 137
    elm3544 said:

    list of things not to say to a cancer patient
    Found these online and added some of my own


    "You could step off the curb tomorrow and get hit by a bus" (not a good analogy, its like I already got hit by the bus and now its backing up over me)
    "You gotta think positively" (ok, I'm positive I have cancer, and I'm positive it isn't fun)
    "You'll be fine"
    "So, your fine now right?"
    "My grandmom died of that"
    "nice fro"
    "God gives you what you can handle"
    "What's your prognosis"
    "Can I see what is going on under that hat?"
    "If anyone can beat it it's you"
    "If it's not your time, it's not your time" (then why bother with the surgery and treatment?)
    "Life is not fair" (thanks for the heads up)
    "Every cloud has a silver lining"
    "Its just a bump in the road" (living with a cancer diagnoses, losing your hair, getting chemo, radiation, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road its a major mountain.)
    "Don't worry"
    "Your lucky you didn't lose weight on chemo"
    'Remember Lance"
    "You gotta be like Lance"
    "Lance beat cancer"
    "Just look at Lance"
    "you're through the worst part"
    "Just think, you're done" (done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. How about hormonal therapy, all the side effects, more boob surgery and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence)
    "You look good bald"
    "So, was the cancer bad?" (no, I had the good kind)
    "It could be alot worse"
    "This is a treatable disease"
    "You have a nice shaped head"
    "How do you know if it's working?" (If I die it didn't work)
    "You know you can eat more curry, its supposed to kill cancer cells" (great tip, thanks)
    "You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" (If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. what does that mean?)
    "If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. when people give up, they die"
    "Don't worry, your hair will grow back"
    "We'll beat this" (we?)

    I also am thinking of getting these printed on t shirts or hats:

    Yes I have cancer, no you may not see my head

    If you are going to stare at least smile

    Just ask me

    List of what not to say -
    Right on! I love your idea of printing the last items on a t-shirt. I also received a couple of remarks that threw me for a loop - and they were from family members that I thought had some sensitivity (guess we all screw up at times):

    When I was stressing out about something that needed to be done around the house, my brother said "don't worry about it; you'll be dead in 5 years anyway" I sincerely hope he was kidding. Anyway, I really let him have it verbally, and had to restrain myself from smacking him!!

    My dear sister asked "do they know what caused the cancer and how you could have prevented it?" Duh - have you lived under a rock all your life??
    and she wondered why I didn't want her to come stay with me after surgery!
  • susie09
    susie09 Member Posts: 2,930
    rainbow4 said:

    List of what not to say -
    Right on! I love your idea of printing the last items on a t-shirt. I also received a couple of remarks that threw me for a loop - and they were from family members that I thought had some sensitivity (guess we all screw up at times):

    When I was stressing out about something that needed to be done around the house, my brother said "don't worry about it; you'll be dead in 5 years anyway" I sincerely hope he was kidding. Anyway, I really let him have it verbally, and had to restrain myself from smacking him!!

    My dear sister asked "do they know what caused the cancer and how you could have prevented it?" Duh - have you lived under a rock all your life??
    and she wondered why I didn't want her to come stay with me after surgery!

    OMG, I would have smacked
    OMG, I would have smacked him so hard! And, your sister? You expect crude and stupid remarks from anyone, but, I would hope not your own family. So sorry rainbow!

    ♣Susie♠