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What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

133 REPLIES 133
lavendersblue
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

My favourite was from a well meaning friend on being told I had to have a radical mastectomy :
" Oh that's a really good operation to have , it is really simple for the surgeon , he doesn't have to work round any vital organs "
Well that was comforting news ..... I don't think !!!!! LOL .
Hugs, Jill x

lexilou3
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Hi all,

I am definately blaming AI brain on this one...

As triaging a young man half my age, trying to assess his symptoms, out of nowhere, and completely inappropriately, the word marriage popped out of my mouth and into the consultation. To mske matters worse i then wondered at that M word !!!

He politely sat a few mins longer, and am sure he will not book with me again.in the future !

LL xxx
Judithvr6
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Hi la-la, you have some crackers there. I especially like the  'how long' comment.. someone seems to be stuck in the 70's!

And an apology... I should Flippin well hope so. I was dumb struck to read that.

 

I've a new comment though not quite true to the subject title.

 

Sat outside radiotherapy where things were running late. A daughter was sat with her mother, mother waiting for treatment.

After a while of tutting and moaning the daughter says "I'm losing the will"

 

I so wanted to ask her, losing the will for what? Cause we are all sat here fighting to live.

 

(And I would rather they resolved any issue with the equipment than give me the wrong dose... and I have a joint family property in Gambia and the thought of what situation I would be in if I lived in sub Sahara Africa, or 100s of other places in the world doesn't bear thinking about)

La-La
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

It is funny how we translate what folk say!

At the clinic last Tuesday when I had diagnosis confirmed, they were having some kind of charity 'event' in the clinic. (I had to sit and watch nibbles/wine being laid out as I waited to go in! It was 7pm)
As I left the consultant's office having had Dx, there was a lady hovering who asked if we would mind leaving via the rear entrance.
At the time my friend and I joked and said we didn't mind being shown out the Tradesman's entrance... but it festered in me and by the time we got in the car I'd translated it into 'We're having a party and we don't want to risk it being ruined by sobbing women who have just been told they have cancer moping through it'

(I did complain and have received a massive apology.)
La-La
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Sorry.. last one ..
I had a very nice young man knock on the door asking about double glazing last week, 15 mins after I'd got home from receiving my results.
He launched into his well researched script and I cut in, saying..
'Sorry, no thanks, really not a good time.'
He said sorry but relaunched his speech, unperturbed.
I said 'No, really, I've just been told I have breast cancer, really not a good time.'
He looked a bit embarrassed, but I swear, he did not flinch and said 'Well I can offer you a free quote and we can hold the price til you see what is the outcome'

Jaw hit floor... but I said 'Seriously? Hard selling to a woman who has just been told she has breast cancer? REALLY not a good idea'

He then said he was really really sorry, and walked slowly backward up my drive (but I swear still muttering the next line of his sales script under his breath!)

I almost felt sorry for him!
Ali1962
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

I love this thread too.

 

My sister in law (who works in the NHS) while I was telling her about my forthcoming Mx: Have you thought about having the other one chopped off too?

 

OK, the phrase she actually used was "Prophylactic Mastectomy on the other one" but that's how it felt to me!

La-La
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

My 11 year old son:
'It's OK mum, 50% of people survive cancer these days"
(Stat from a cancer charity tv ad! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Had to quickly correct him)

I know everyone means well and yes, close friends/family have to process this and to be honest I think they may have a harder time in some ways as we just get on with it.
But OMG, if one more persons tells me 'not to worry' I will swing for them!

But I am guilty too! One lady got her results back and was stage B1 and I was so relieved for her as we'd all been waiting for our results (awful time), and it seemed we were all getting grade 3/her2/lymph spread results!
When this poor lady got B1 and no lymph nodes I actually said 'that's good news'.
Yes from my perspective, but lord from her perspective I am pretty sure that was not how she felt! Argh! Face in hands!

I think the only reaction that I 'like' is: 'Crap. Here, have a cup of tea'

Just DON'T tell me not to worry.
(Saying that I'd moan if they didn't make a fuss)
La-La
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Oh ladies thank you for this thread! I have sat outside my son's school for half an hour trying to read it on my iphone and laughing loudly (getting some funny looks, expect a tap on the window from police soon)

My GP
I went to 5 mths ago to ask for a mam referral cos boobs felt 'weird, twingey & oddly lumpy'. Just not themselves. I knew something was off.
He claimed he felt nothing and sent me away.

So 5 mths on I go to him with the mother of all lumps in my left boob.
Me: "'You remember I came to you 5 mths ago? I now have a massive lump in my left breast"
Him: "But you said it was the right breast!"

Oh, my bad!
(He had actually 'checked' both, but that is not really the point)
... turned out I actually have cancer in both!

Not been back to see him yet. That'll be fun.
Fuffs123
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Oh Elawin. Perhaps you should have said, well how long do you have then?! Who knows how long anyone's got after all. I've been staggered by some of my 'friends' comments but in the end you just have to laugh at it. You'll find lots of support and laughs on here, believe me. Nothing like BC to give you a black sense of humour!! Xx
Wendyy
Volunteer

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

😳 Elawin. Lost for words xx
Elawin
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

I am newly diagnosed (haven't even seen the surgeon yet), and on my way back from receiving my results I  met a close friend and her husband.  First she said to me "You look terrible!  Is something wrong?", and when I told her she followed that by "How long have you got?"!  Even her husband's chin hit the floor.

borbie
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

 
lexilou3
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

**Fantastic ••
lexilou3
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Fantastic matty ,,, how lovely x

 

Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

This isn't a 'What not so say' it's a made me feel good one. Went out for a walk with OH and a younger neighbour (male) (everyone seems to be younger than me!!

Said : Oh B....It's so good to see you out and about again

I liked that no how are you, looking well etc

 

Fuffs123
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Ho ho! You got to love them😍😍. Just been phoned by my BCN to say they want to do another op on 15 April to get clearer margin. That will delay the rads again, what a pain, just want to get it over and done with. Was royally ticked off by her for suggesting I might not take the Anastrazole. Smack my wrist 👀👀
Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Oh Francine Woman LOL

Fuffs123
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Yesterday, colleague pooped in for tea. Started with 'you're looking well' then went on to 'well you've always wanted a boob reduction (which I have I must say, at an H cup!) and now you could get one free on the NHS. Instead of taking out a loan to pay for that, you could use the money to buy a new car, Result!' Of course, silly me, why didn't I see the great benefits of having BC?! Well you have to laugh x
T3D
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

My "favourite" response so far came from a member of my knitting group via Facebook messenger it said, and i quote " if you're gonna get it, it's the best place to, you can cut em off and get a spanking new pair" honestly she has no idea. And this is someone that works as a "life coach"!!!!!!
Rosemaryanne
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Along the same theme : "But you look so well!" I've heard that soooo many times, always said with that "encouraging smile", in a sickly tone. I really don't know what I'm expected to look like!

Bernie610
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Just come across this amusing thread! My zero people skills manager's response to the news was "well you look alright."......... There really was no reply to match that!
Fuffs123
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

How about this one from 'friend' - oh breast cancer, that's quite common isn't it, it's not like it's bowel cancer, now that's nasty. I was rendered speechless and that takes some doing!! OH looked like he might punch her so I ushered him out to make the tea, lol.
pandorra1
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

How are you? Phenomenal, but could be better.  Xxxx

lexilou3
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Ohh Fuffs,,,, loved your special request from the deli counter !

 

Must admit i am joiking about my symmetrisation surgery on April 1st & hoping he doesnt go for the Jordan option, secretly bricking & welcoming the surgery as will be good to be ion a bra that fits again... Then hopefully just onwards & upwards!

 

LL xx

Seabreeze
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Matty - it's strange going throu this, u rapidly realise that some of the people u thought would be there aren't, yet at the same time supporters emerge who you didn't realise u had much in common with or were that close too before.I guess that it the one positive of all this, those who are real...

judith - i totally agree, if he was like that through his wife's treatment! The guy who had cancer in yr office - he may find it helpful to know u get aspects of the whole cancer thing - maybe u should gently let him know
x seabreeze
Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

He he

 In all the years we've been married my OH never gave me flowers.

I have decided I will know when he thinks I am well again as at the moment I'm having a bunch a week. Doesn't say much though except 'We must be positive about this'

 

I did tell one person just after I was diagnosed as I thought she would be supportive - was diagnosed in December, she finally spoke to me again on Sunday - you just never can tell!!

hannah203
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Hehe my OH gave me a "get well soon card" on my day of diagnosis... Well meaning, but I did tease them 😛
Judithvr6
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Seabreeze - I wouldn't feel sorry for his ex. She is his EX and it sounds like she is well shot of him.

 

And I'm getting to the stage where I think (hope) my head is more with it now and I realise that how you give the news needs some pre thought. Who knows what history others have and how our news might affect them. So I'm becoming more selective in who I tell.

I'm going into the office this week (I work from home most of the time) and there is a guy works near by who had a brain tumour 10+ years ago.. if he says hi, how are you, do I tell him? He will know it's my second time around. I don't think he needs the possible worry my news could cause.

 

 

And I've remembered a quote from OH.

Well, it can't get any worse..... (meaning recovery from surgery will be fine but even then 🙂  )

Seabreeze
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

another discussion starting with me saying I've not been in the office for a few months.....
chap at work responds "were you on maternity leave?"
no "no I had breast cancer"
His jaw hit the floor (most people I know at work were informed just before my treatment started)
I felt a bit guilty for not saying it in a softer manner...he's a nice guy and must have been mortified
Seabreeze
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

chap at work..."oh you must know Mr X"
me "no, I don't think I've met him"
chap at work "oh you must have met him at all the Z meetings"
me "no, well I haven't been at the Z meetings for awhile, I had to take some time out"
chap "so why was that then"
me "breast cancer"
chap " did you have mets"
me (thinking that's a bit direct for someone I really don't know v well at all)
me "thankfully not in nodes so no, no signs anyway"
chap " my ex-wife had cancer, she had it 4 times"
me " sorry to hear that, was it a reoccurrence?"
chap "no, she was just unlucky, 4 unconnected lots of cancer"
I should add I'm only fairly recently back at work...left his desk unsure who to feel sorry for, his ex wife I think based on his somewhat abrupt factual approach...
Fuffs123
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Love this thread! Some of my specials:
Well what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
Sometimes good things come out of bad, you'll be able to take some time out now at least
Perhaps its Gods way of telling you to sliow down
My normally well meaning friends are still trying to take their feet out of their mouths!
Nearly as bad as me askiing for a tumour mayo sandwich recently in a cafe - you can tell where my head was, lol.
hannah203
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

My mum's boyfriend said on the day of my diagnosis
"Have you considered a second opinion" - like the second opinion would be you don't have cancer??!

and a few days later
"Have you heard about cutting dairy out of your diet because in China only rich women who have dairy get breast cancer" - so now cancer is my fault for not being a vegan?!

I told a (older) family friend on the phone who had the same diagnosis a few years ago, and her first response was "Go for the mastectomy."

Makes me wonder if I too have said "the wrong thing" to people over the years, cringe. xx
Kittkatt
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

My favourite had to be "oh don't worry, your husband's lovely - he won't mind at all". 😳
Seriously???? !!!!!!
I was so speechless I'd already turned a 180 by the time my chin hit the ground and luckily our paths haven't crossed since.
Kitt
X
Wendyy
Volunteer

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Judith. Just 😳

Easy!!! What's all the fuss about!!!

W x
Judithvr6
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Ha.. just found the second email from male friend. Copy pasted below as reading it a week later I still reeled...

Good to hear you survived treatment, no small feat with something like cancer treatment. Now on to the last bits, the bits not to be
underestimated, I guess. Hope it all goes well, and that your blood
tests (that's what they'll now analyse for antibodies, isn't it?) will
improve as showing no antibodies (value of less than 7?) rapidly. It
is pretty amazing stuff what they can do with radiotherapy these days,
3D scans of the affected areas and then direct the beam pretty
accurately without doing too much damage to surrounding tissue,
certainly a huge improvement compared to that old dreaded chemo.

 

There are no words... though I did send a more cutting reply.

Judithvr6
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Hi,

Just seen this thread as it was added as a link elsewhere.

 

My 2 favourites are:

Spoken to me while patting my hand,

'What is important is that you get better'.... no **bleep** Sherlock!!!

 

And email from a male friend who had heard from a joint female friend (though in his defence I don't know what detail he was given) only a few weeks post surgery but before onc appointment

'Is treatment working?'... I replied I am still here so I guess it must be, though 1 month after diagnosis is maybe too soon to tell.

 

 

And yes, I believe both were said with good intentions. Sigh

13gerbera
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Laughing now ladies, course I'll nip round to do your windows!  Does your kitchen floor need scrubbing too? *dons MollyMaid outfit*  In return I'll need a vat of coffee & lots of homemade cake though Smiley LOL

Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Smiley LOL

 

Rosemaryanne
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

She was a no-show, Beryl. Maybe not quite as well as her cousin thinks she should be? How are you doing Sharon? xx
Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Oh - if she can do yours -mine need doing aswell Sharon!!

Bx

Rosemaryanne
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Never mind the exercises, I was expecting her to be round at mine cleaning the windows, inside and out! Smiley Tongue

Matty2
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Come on now Sharon - get a move on with those exercises - if you can!!!!!!

B

Wendyy
Volunteer

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Get a wiggle on Sharon. What are you messing about at 😳
13gerbera
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Just got a text message from my cousin asking me when I thought I'd be back to my normal activities.  Only had my surgery yesterday afternoon and got home this morning, seems I'm slacking already! 😞 

Wendyy
Volunteer

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Walking in to one of my rads appointments with my lovely supportive husband. I said, this just is so surreal I don't feel like it's happening to me ( meaning the whole cancer thing) his reply thinking I meant the rads, yes it's like having the boiler serviced, you don't see anything for it 😳. Hmmm so I'm like the boiler!!! fortunately I still have a sense of humour and managed to stop giggling long enough to stay still for my treatment
bee13
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

We certainly are Jets. I'm having a ball....not!
JETS
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Ha Bee - because we are all enjoying our pretend cancer .... Unbelievable !
Testrix
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Only just seen this thread - have skim read and I think if we did a top 10, most of us would see our un-'favourites' - for me

 

'How are you FEELING?' - said with doe-eyed look and head slightly tilted to one side...

 

 'You're so brave' - NO, I didn't have a choice!!

 

'My sister/ friend/ dental receptionist etc HAD THE SAME THING' - No - you haven't a clue what my actual diagnosis/ prognosis is

 

'You're the last person I expected to get cancer' - I'm so glad I've relieved you of that stereotypical view

 

'You'll be fine - you're such a healthy person' - No comment...

 

& don't get me started on my (now ex) oncologist at our pre-chemo meeting

'You will lose your hair' - 'I've had my long hair cut short to ease the process and make it less obvious to start with' - 'I don't know why you bothered, you might as well have had it all shaved off'

 

'Wearing dark nail varnish may help reduce nail problems - not fancy nails though' - 'I never usually wear nail varnish as I'm a massage therapist' - 'well you won't be doing that while you're having chemo' (proved him wrong!!!)

 

My lumpectomy included removal of nipple & surrounding tissue - on seeing my scar 'Are you going to bother with any reconstruction - it's only cosmetic'  - Shall I remove the end of your **bleep** and wonder if you want it replacing??????

 

Anyway - I'm sure I'll remember/ hear more - but LOVE THE THREAD 🙂

 

 

bee13
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Lol I have no idea why that posted twice. Sorry! I'll blame it on my meds!!!
bee13
Member

Re: What not to say to a cancer patient. ..join in

Been back to work about 3 weeks on phased return after my mastectomy. I've had the expander fitted. I think that will be removed in February. I'm suffering really bad from the side effects of the Anastrozole. My joints are killing me. A guy who works in another department stopped me today and asked how I am. I said "yeah fine" as you do! He said "Can I ask you something? "Yes" I said. "I'm not promising I'll give you an answer though". He then said. "Was it real cancer, you had?" It's only now while laying in bed, I can think of all these smart answers I could have, should have used. Damn!!!