The tips below have been provided by Roadkill Goldfish readers in response to the original post, What your friends with cancer want you to know, but afraid to say.
Shared by Tiffany, the mom of a 4-year-old survivor
Adult cancer and childhood cancer are not alike. Please don’t compare the two. Children do not have a fully developed worldview, they have not lived a full life yet. They are children. It’s entirely different.
My parenting practices may not meet your standards. If my child, after surgery, on chemo, needs to kick a hospital wall, I will let her. If she’s tired of medical students, I empower her to ask them to get out.
My child desperately needs her friends to treat her normal. Play dates are like gold (if your child is well).
Keep your sick child out of school. My child has missed months and cherishes days at school, but can’t go because your child is ill, but you still send them.
Keep praying for us even after the initial diagnosis. We worry every day cancer will come back, we dread scans and appointments, we pray your family will never have to fight this beast and that there will be a cure.
DEATH AND DYING
Don’t ask me how long I have to live. It’s the same answer as everyone else. Until I die.
People who survive cancer are lucky. We want that for all of them, of course, but surviving or not surviving cancer has nothing to do with how much the person wants to live.
– the Gold Digger
When my husband was determined to be terminal after a years- long battle with cancer, the support flooded in. Countless people offered for us to solicit their support when he became home bound shortly before his death. Countless people came to hospice during the 36 hours that he lay comatose before he died. The visitation, funeral service, and procession was the largest ever seen in our area.
Very few of those people have been in contact or of any help since.
– Laura (widow and mother of two young children)
DISCUSSIONS TO HAVE AND DISCUSSIONS TO AVOID
Talking about all the “root causes” of cancer can sound like it’s my fault that I have cancer. Don’t say that cancer was caused by bitterness or anger or some other suppressed emotion. This is essentially telling me that I have what I have deserved and THAT is something the person does not need to be hearing in their already vulnerable condition.
– Amber Rose
Tell your relatives if your cancer has a genetic link. Relatives are a bit leery of asking but definitely want to know.
“Good luck on your recovery” is not encouraging. This is not a poker game or slot machine.
Skip the horror stories about other cancer experiences. I know you’re trying to relate, but we need positive words and understanding, not cancer horror stories. I made people mad and lost a couple of so-called friends doing this, but no one going through cancer needs that kind of selfishness at that time of their lives.
– David (husband of a cancer veteran)
Rather than make donations to a cancer fundraising group, financially help your friend first. There is loss of income, then the unknown medical expenses, even something as simple as special food/eating needs can blow a budget. Do not assume they have insurance for these kinds of things.
No jokes about Obamacare. You may not like it, but the pre-existing condition law is keeping me alive because I got let go from my job after I was diagnosed with cancer. – Lee
PRAYER AND FAITH
If you are religious, please pray for me. I really appreciate your care and concern but please don’t tell me, “God has a plan.” It sounds to me like you are saying, “What will be will be. God may want you to die.”
SIDE EFFECTS OF TREATMENT
Saying “your hair will grow back” is not encouraging. I had hair before I started treatment that I really liked.
Skip the talk about “It’s only your hair.” The opportune word here is YOUR. Not so easy to take when it is your own.
Advice for pathologists: When writing biopsy or other lab reports, don’t use phrases like, “The remaining breast is unremarkable.” No offense, but it’s pretty remarkable to me!
Ask me if I’m open to alternative treatments before you start offering them. Do not tell me about juicing, weird healing methods, etc. Believe me, I have looked up everything and put all my positive energy into the path I have chosen. What matters most is what I believe will work.