I have heard some really, really dumb things. Please stop saying them to cancer patients, survivors, their care givers.
In no particular order:
1. I'm sure everything will be fine.
2. So what lifestyle choice did you make that gave you cancer?
-These people will then tell you how they will never get cancer because they eat right, drink right, sleep right, pray right, poop right, exercise right, you name it. My favourite is when they are chugging diet coke and/or smoking while they tell you how much better they are.
3. If you believed in <insert name of deity here>, you wouldn't have gotten sick.
- Some members of my family told me this. That was nice.
4. How come you got that?
- Do you really want to know, or are you just passing time? Most are just passing time. I tend to answer with one word: locust. Their reaction tells you if they are paying attention.
5. Really? (look at boobs) But your boobs look fine!
- There are a whole bunch of cancers. If it's a body part (or even part of a body part), there can be a cancer of it. It's not just the boobs. Honestly, for all the "awareness" that has been created, people are still pretty clueless.
6. You know, it's because you didn't drink enough water.
7. You know, it's because you drank water out of a <insert container here>.
8. It's because you ate meat. That is soooo bad for you.
9. Its because you didn't eat organic. That is soooo bad for you.
- For these four, and all the variations of them; no, it's not. Vegetarians get cancer too. So do doctors. Cancer was around before vaccinations started. Cancer predates a whole bunch of things.
10. Oh, uh,........... (never speak to patient again)
- Actually, you know what? I'm OK with this one. There are a couple of people who just dropped out of my life once they learned I had cancer. It's been a while now. I don't miss them.
11. My <friend/relative/neighbour/remote accquaintance> had that once. It was awful. Then she/he died.
- Thank you for sharing that. What was the point, exactly? To cheer me up? Well guess what? You are going to die, too! Eventually. We all will.
12. Oh no! If you need anything, call me.
- You are trying to help. That's nice. But offer to do something specific. Yardwork? Meal preparation? Laundry? Take the dog to the groomer?
13. Oh, what you need to do is.....<take this herb, drink this potion, wear this bead, think this way>.
- No. No. No. No. No. I get that you want to help, and that you think conventional medicine is part of the problem. Stop offering things you heard somewhere. "Drink this tea" is pretty common. How much? What concentration? How often? What does it do? How does it do it? Does it react badly with anything else? Like, say, actually prevent the chemo from doing it's job? Because some of these "natural" things do that.
14. You should only use natural things. Natural things can't hurt you.
- I like my sister-in-law's answer to this one: "You are right! Natural things are totally safe, like lead, arsenic, asbestos, fire..."
- Updated 2014, following a comment from a fellow survivor. She's right. Never say that first one.
Also, you can stop with the stay cheerful nonsense. It's exhausting.