Don’t say this to a friend with breast cancer

January 30, 2017

breast-cancerIt’s hard to know what to say to a friend who’s just heard a cancer diagnosis.  Ronna Benjamin gets that–she has breast cancer and she’s heard it all. So she’s come up with a list of 17 things not to say to a friend with breast cancer.

Ok, so you’re wondering what exactly TO say, not what NOT to say.  She covers that, too.  Good wishes. Gestures and notes of love. I’d add to that a non-judgmental ear. Specific offers of help, like a ride to treatment or a prepare a meal.  “Those are no-brainers,” you’re probably thinking.

Well, you’d THINK so. But apparently not. So be sure to check out Ronna’s piece (link below) so that you don’t inadvertently step in it if a friend or loved one gets this diagnosis.

Oh, and trust me. You’re going to wonder at some of the things she tells us that people have said–who could be that stupid?  Apparently, lots of people.

So, here you go. Read more HERE.  And thanks, Ronna, for letting me share this piece!

23 comments on “Don’t say this to a friend with breast cancer
  1. Donna says:

    I went to a funeral Saturday, I am not a “viewer” but found myself swept along in the line to view. The woman in front of me turned around pointed to the casket and “wow, we could have been doing this for you. Glad you lived!” She meant no harm, it was said in love, but it added to my discomfort about almost dying. I have a list of things people have said that are unnecessary, and dumb. So odd

  2. Hannah Green says:

    Such an important blog to write to spread this kind of awareness. People often don’t think before they engage or they say things because they don’t know what else to say. x

  3. These are things that a lot of people do not understand. It is good for everyone to be aware of what to not say to people with breast cancer.

  4. My cousin was just diagnosed. It is difficult to know what to say except, I have no idea what you are going through and I’m here (seriously) if you need me.

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Thank you so much for this blog! These great tips will help me be sure that I am supporting and loving the sisterhood in a more impactful way.

  6. This is good information. People don’t mean to be cruel, they just don’t know any better. Posts like this inform them.

  7. Such wise words, Ronna. We all need to pay attention because–let’s face it–as we get older, more of us are going to be facing health issues, either our own or those of our loved ones. A great resource I found is a book called “The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can’t Find the Words” by Susan Halpern.

  8. It’s amazing sometimes, how truly insensitive people can be. Cancer is such a serious thing, and even though we’ve come a very long way in treatment options, that certainly doesn’t make it “nothing.” I’m glad you shared that post – it was a good one.

  9. Well thought out list and so honest. Let’s kick cancer in the butt.

  10. Michelle says:

    Such good advice. I think often times people mean well and then they really miss the mark.

  11. Thank you for the advice. I agree with Michelle, sometimes people mean well but just can’t think of the proper words to say or the proper way to say their encouraging words.

  12. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s never easy to deal with cancer. I hope people are sensitive enough to not say these things. I just read the article and it makes complete sense. If you’re not sure what to say or if what you’re about to say will offend your friend or loved one, it’s best to let them do the talking and just be quiet.

  13. Kelly Reci says:

    i have nursed and nursing 2 aunts and 1 uncle from a cancer diagnosis. I can really relate to this post! worth reading!

  14. MaryAnne says:

    This is so important to know! I consider the worse thing we should say in this case is”I am sorry” cause you really don´t feel what she feels.. 🙁

  15. Glad you are spreading awareness with this piece. I’ve not personally known anyone with breast cancer, but I have known someone with cancer.

  16. Kiyshia says:

    I think its always very difficult to try and find the words that make you sound symapthetic enough without sounding like an idiot. Its like you have to find a balance between being sympathetic – acting strong – and acting ‘normal’. I’m one of those awkward people who can never really find the right words to say, so i now just say it ll with a hug. This post is great and has highlighted the fact that people need to take into account the emotional journey that person is going through. and some words are just not needed. Thanks for sharing

  17. Maria Han says:

    My mom’s friend was diagnosed that she have a breast cancer I know she’s a strong woman and get recover soon, I love this Spreading awareness

  18. Sometimes people aren’t aware of what they’re saying and most of the times their words can hurt even more. It’s not always easy to discuss cancer with anyone, especially those going through it.

  19. katrina gehman says:

    a friend just told me yesterday she is fighing breast cancer. I myself have had skin cancer when i was a child and i remember how people treated me different. i don’t do that to anyone else.

  20. Wow. People really need to think before opening their mouth! Thank you for posting this.

  21. mira pstr says:

    I don’t have any person that have cancer in my entourage, thank god, I hope I will never see someone with this, thank you for your post

  22. Stacey says:

    After my father was diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, what to ay and not say really hit home. Having to come up with words of encouragement to two friends in as many months has become far too common.

  23. Mackay mri says:

    Not all diagnostic imaging requires the use of radiation. Magnetic resonance imaging, known by many as an MRI, utilizes powerful magnets and radio waves to generate individual 3-D pictures of internal structures.

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