Everyone knows there is sensitivity around the ‘C’ word. You can’t just go to the bookstore and pick up a manual to know how to show support to someone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes the best of intentions to show encouragement backfire and you strike a chord making that person feel worse than they already do.
- “I know how you feel” - Unless you’re going through breast cancer yourself, you can’t possibly know how they’re feeling. Show compassion but don’t act as if you’ve been in their shoes.
- “But you don’t look sick” or “you look great” – You may be trying to make them feel better but that doesn’t change the fact that they are sick and it’s a hard diagnosis to deal with.
- “Why would you do that to your hair?” – Any comments regarding hair should be off limits. If they’re wearing a baseball cap, don’t ask why. If they still have hair, don’t ask when it’s going to fall out. It’ll be a big enough adjustment to deal with when it does, until then it doesn’t need to be discussed.
- “It’s only stage one, no biggie” – Don’t minimize the seriousness of the disease or tell them they’ll be fine when no one knows what the outcome will be. Thinking positive is one thing but offering promises out of your hands is another.
The best thing anyone can do for someone battling breast cancer is to be a good listener. Be that shoulder for them to cry on and that hand to hold. For the complete list of comments made to avoid “foot-in-mouth” disease, visit our Facebook page.
Filed in: Coping