The Most Helpful Things You Can Say to Someone Who Has Cancer

December 4, 2013  |  Mesothelioma

Cancer is one of those things in life that likes to come in and mess everything up. With cancer things may not just be more tiring, expensive, devastating, lonesome and scary – they can also be more confusing. For instance: that best friend since high school to whom you’ve always told everything. Suddenly, you’re at a loss for words.

It’s difficult whether you are the person with cancer or the friend or family member who steps in to support someone who has cancer. And things get even more complicated when the cancer is less understood and has fewer treatment options, such as the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

So, what should a person say…

I’m sorry?
I’m praying for you?
I’m here for you?

What about I don’t know what to say, followed by a bear hug?

It may sound cliché or even insubstantial, but actually saying you are sorry or saying you are there for someone is one of the most helpful things you can say.

But what else can brighten someone’s day?

This is where the individuality of the person with cancer comes into play: their character, preferences and circumstances – as well as your relationship – can all help guide you to find the most helpful and meaningful things to say.

Was your friend or family member always cracking jokes or finding the punch line in his or her pre-cancer life? Then bring a sense of humor to the situation. After all, as bad as having cancer is, cancer does not fundamentally change who you are. You can bring light to the situation by saying something like, "Out of all the people we know, you are the only one who is tough enough to deal with mesothelioma." You can’t say this to just anyone, but to a person who likes some humor, this can do wonders to bring light into their day. Not to mention, it just might be true.

From the minute you are diagnosed, you are a cancer survivor. It’s tough work, but each day that passes is another day you’ve fought and won.

For those who want a healthy dose of the facts, how about: "Cancer is just a word. It is not who you are."

For those who need some encouragement, how about: "Don’t worry about the numbers, you are a statistic of one."

Other cancer survivors can also offer real-world suggestions and tips. For instance, for a parent who has been recently diagnosed, it may be helpful to him or her if a fellow survivor says: "It helped me to cry before I told my children. That way I was able to support them more when I told them and I showed them I was strong."

These are the kinds of conversations you can have that will help you and your loved ones forget about the cancer and move on to something more important: you, your relationships, your family and your love.

Sure, cancer is a big speed bump in life and mesothelioma will change your life forever. But you are bigger than your cancer, always.

It’s time we started talking about that with those we care about most.

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