Finding the right words at the right time for the cancer sufferers

Reality bites and having to face your loved one who has just been diagnosed with cancer is pathetically hard. We are at loss for words, tongue tied and do not know what to and what not to speak. However, each word coming out of our mouth have intense implication. We must be careful while choosing the right kind of words and when in dilemma it’s better not to speak at all than to hurt his/her sentiments.

According to LA Times, several peer counselors at ‘National Breast Cancer Organization’ offered the statements they found most and least helpful to hear during their own breast cancer battles.

Right words:

“I’m here for you, and we’ll see this through together.”

“I’ll organize your friends to make dinners, drive car pools, shop, etc. — whatever would be helpful.”

“I know this is difficult for you, but please know I will do all I can to support you.”

“I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I’m here to help in any way.”

“Would you like to tell me more about it?”

Wrong words:

“You’ll be fine.”

“You poor thing.”

“I know how you feel.”

“I know someone who died from that.”

“Call me if you need anything.”

“Will you be OK financially since you won’t be able to work?”

“I think you should ______ .”

 

Among many, one change that  all cancer patients undergo is having to fight the ongoing battle emotionally and physically. They become way too sensitive even to normal words or the words that haven’t had hurt him/her before. Even the people who  had the ability to laugh at themselves before start to count on words people around them speak once diagnosed with cancer. ‘ I can’t take the call. I have cancer.’ ‘ I can’t pass the remote. I have got cancer.’ – silly stuffs like that goes to show the terrible agony that he/she is going through.

The psyche of cancer sufferers are hard to understand. You never know what turns their emotional switch on. We must not say things like, “You look healthy,” when they are not, or give instances about those who had cancer and how pathetically they suffered. We should not tell them that we’ve never known anyone who was cured of cancer by using chemo, radiation, etc. Nothing would be more helpful than to be in their shoes and be empathetic.  Render the right kind of words at the right time.

Caregivers can make a difference.

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