How to Talk About Breast Cancer: “look on the bright side” doesn’t help! | aBreastchat

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How to Talk About Breast Cancer: “look on the bright side” doesn’t help!

Written By on September 21, 2016

It is so tempting when someone has a setback in their cancer journey to try and cheer them up, tell them it’s a blessing disguise or encouraging them with motivational comments. No! This is not what is needed at a time like this and you would think I would know better given that I’ve been there and written the book about it!
Recently I almost fell into that trap. Let me explan… My friend Carol’s 8th and final round of chemo was scheduled recently and she was so excited to be done. Unfortunately her white cell count was too low and chemo was delayed. My first reaction when I heard the news was to make some meaningless comment like: “maybe it’s a blessing in disguise” or “when you do have your chemo it will work that much better.” Fortunately I caught myself in time.
If you are supporting someone (with cancer or not)… just listen, acknowledge the disappointment and as Carol says “let me vent if I need to without taking it personally”. Follow my lead if I want to laugh at life’s unfairness then laugh with me but please no advice and no soapbox pep rally!
Carol's got spunk
Try this:
“That must have been really disappointing” OR
“What can I do to help you while you wait?”
Carol is off work with reduced compensation, living away from her teenage daughters and still facing surgery and despite all this she has remained strong and positive, she has used alternative therapies and meditation as additional tools and has spoken up for herself as needed. This is a strong woman who just needs someone to stand beside her through the roller coaster journey of cancer.
It is up to you – your challenge is to go out there and remove yourself from the equation – this about discovering and giving what the other person needs most.
If you are “Carol” in the next blog some tips on how to talk to an “unaware” friend like me.


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