Four words to say to someone going through cancer treatments


A little while ago, I wrote this post of what not to say to a woman with breast cancer. I probably could add a few things to that list as could every woman with breast cancer. Scratch that, probably every person who has had cancer could come up with a pretty funny list of comments made to them. Instead of what not to say, I have a list of what to say. But instead of sharing that whole list today, there are four simple words that anyone can say to a person going through cancer treatments.

These words are pretty simple but they are so powerful to a person going through cancer treatments. They are:

“How are you doing?”

Note that these four words can be spoken face to face, over the phone, or sent in a text or email.

Why do I think these are the four most important words? Well, I’ll tell you why.

First of all asking how they are is acknowledging that you know what they are going through. It cuts down on the potential awkward comments that may happen as well by the friend or family member asking this question.

Saying these four simple words leaves the conversation in the persons court. They could simply say “things are fine. Thanks” which means that they don’t want to talk about their diagnosis, treatment etc. Or they may start telling you about their upcoming surgery. The most important part is that you are giving them a choice to talk about it or not without making them feel like they are being forced to talk about it. That being said, by asking a question, you must give them a chance to talk and/or vent without you saying anything. Just be a listening ear.

Personally when I was out with my kids, I didn’t want to talk about my cancer. I wanted to try to have my life as normal as possible and I really appreciated when people showed that respect and asked me how I was doing. Usually, I would just answer that things were fine and thank them for asking. It showed them that I didn’t want to talk about it while out with my kids and thankfully everyone was respectful of that.

Lastly, asking “How are you doing” is showing that the person is supportive by you and that they are being thought of. Being invisible was a worry when I had cancer and afterwards. Sending or speaking these words really means the world to someone who needs to be supported through a very difficult time.

There are so many things that one can say to a person who has cancer, but to me these four words are the most important. So please remember them when you meet someone you know with cancer in the future.


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