10 Things To Never Say To Someone With Cancer

Bart T
Bart T Member Posts: 62 Member

Today, I came across an in interesting article on MSN. The story detailed things not to say to people with various medical conditions, and one section was the “10 Things To Never Say To Someone With Cancer.” Here is the link:




 3.    "YOU'RE SO STRONG."


 5.    "Are you a smoker?"

 6.    "My friend had the same cancer that you have. Let me tell you all about it."

 7.    "If there's anything I can do, just let me know."

 8.    "I know how you feel."

 9.    "I've heard that they can cure leukemia with modified AIDS virus cells now..."

 10.  Nothing.

 Maybe I’m not sensitive enough, or am a bit too thick skinned, but I was always appreciative of any concern regarding my condition, no matter how ill-worded that expression may have been. I could probably add to the list of tacky statements if I wanted to, but no person ever said anything to me that was not said or asked with the best of intentions. There things I got angry about, but some poorly crafted expression of concern was never one of them.

 Probably the one item on the list that I did find offensive was number 10 – nothing. To me that implied a lack of concern.

Just curious what you all think of the list. If you go to the link, there is a paragraph or two detailing the rationale behind each of the comments. 


  • MrsBD
    MrsBD Member Posts: 617 Member
    What not to say

    I am thankful that most everyone was very supportive of our family during my treatment though we have one neighbor whose question should be at the top of the list. When I told him I had cancer, he blurted out, "Are you gonna make it?" Yikes! The Bible says we are to put the best construction on everything,so I just decided he's not good at speaking off the cuff.

  • tommyodavey
    tommyodavey Member Posts: 727 Member
    My Comments

    The most common one I got and still get is the smoker one.  People want to place the blame on something and are uncomfortable not knowing what caused it.  My doctor said mine might have been caused by exposure to radiation.  So why did they give me rads to get rid of it?  And don't we all get the "let me know if I can do anything" comment?  Two of my sisters offered to come take care of me and that I appreciated.  Thinking back on it I should have said yes.  My poor wife went through hell with me.  I didn't complain, there was just too much pain and she felt she couldn't do anything to help.

    That's my 2¢


  • LiseA
    LiseA Member Posts: 266
    I was told that a

    I was told that a chiropractor could cure me, and MDA is only out to make money.

    How long do you have to live?

    I googled your and it does not sound promising!

    Best one From a Pentecostal woman:  this is a generational curse (she knew I lost 3 family members to cancer) so the die is cast. 

    After the above, I stopped sharing my diagnosis with other people. Many acquaintance and even friends who live abroad, do not know what I'm going through. I prefer to be as private as I possibly it can. Totally understand David Bowie's way. 

  • TracyLynn72
    TracyLynn72 Member Posts: 839

    I had some very odd things said to me as well.

    "I certainly hope this will make you stop smoking" yep...12 days in the hospital pretty much cured me of that

    "You know, it's not really a death sentence to have cancer nowadays...not like it once was"  um...thanks?

    "they had to cut all the way down to your collar bone?"  yep..scars don't lie

    "why such a major surgery?"  well, it was CANCER...so....

    I think most everyone meant well.  Some people aren't sure what to say or do.  It has made me handle situations with loved ones much better :)

  • Barbaraek
    Barbaraek Member Posts: 626
    The one that bothers my husband the most is...

    "You look great!" even though he feels like crap and they have NO IDEA what a pain in the behind xerostomia and lack of taste and fear of choking is like. He just nods and smiles - what can you do? I think what bothers him is that everyone assumes your life is 100% back to normal and it's not, and probably never will be. We just work daily to accomodate our new normal.

    On the pther hand, I must say how very grateful we were for all the supportive comments and gestures of kindness that we received from friends, family and co-workers. Sometimes they were what got us through the darkest days.


  • SusanUES
    SusanUES Member Posts: 125
    edited June 2016 #7
    Am I the only one who thinks blunders are funny?

    I have a very warped sense of humor so I kind of live for the "open mouth, insert foot" moments, myy cancer included...it's part of what got me through the past year.  I had two gem moments.

    The first was from my long-time friend who's an Aspie and has no filters: "Yeah, I know the radiation is awful but you look great...what are you now, size six? Four?" 

    The second was my seatmate at the opera: "I was just telling my husband last week that you and Dmitri Hvorostovsky are like the poster kids for "Beauty Through Cancer"... you look fantastic!"

    Both comments rank high on my list; all the others were loving, PC, supportive and appreciated...but nowhere's near as funny.

  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
    edited June 2016 #8
    I decided I'm not thick skinned....

    I'm just not overly sensitive.  I never heard a single thing from anybody around me that got to me.  Things said were either funny, sweet, or forgetable.  After I was finished with chemo and rads....I had another 9 weeks of a different chemo....one that can hit the hair folicules.  The only place I went totally bald was my eyelashes.  My husband called me "turtle eye"....that cracked me up....I still get the giggles when I think about it.  I LOVE Susan's "Beauty through Cancer"....that's a great one. 


  • wmc
    wmc Member Posts: 1,804
    I know they really mean well.

    I am normally okay with everything said. Now once in awhile I get "I can imagen what you went through" or what it was like. I know they do mean well, but they have no clue that I still go through every single day. 


  • Hondo
    Hondo Member Posts: 6,636 Member
    edited June 2016 #10
    Hi Bart

    I been clean almost 10 years now and still have people who come up to me and say, man you know what I heard was good for cancer, you need to try it. I try to politely inform that I have not had cancer is ten years, then they will say something like oh I did not know that. I look at them and say I wonder why.


    Well oh