Things You Should Say to a Cancer Patient

I previously wrote a short list of things you probably shouldn’t say to someone diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, there’s a flip-side of things that cancer patients want to hear – need to hear. The following list contains words that I could never get enough of during treatment.

“I’m praying for you.”

I believe that no matter where you are with your faith, these words are some of the most precious words anyone in any dire situation can hear. Just knowing that I was being thought about and prayed over meant so much because I was in a place where praying was SO hard to do.

Many conversations with fellow patients and nurses turned to prayer. The cards I received mentioned prayer. A family member passing along that “so and so” is praying for you.

It was those prayers that got me through.

“I don’t know how you feel, but please help me understand.”

Chemo took an enormous toll on my mind and body. The side effects were horrible and by the time I felt better, it was time for the next round of chemo. With each round, I grew worse and worse.

And no one understands.

No one can understand the pain you feel, the mouth sores, nausea, mind-numbing depression, tingly fingers, difficulty going to the bathroom, constant body temperature monitoring, and lethargy. No one understands why you don’t want to read, watch TV, listen to music, go to the park, walk the dog – or do ANYTHING. No one understands that laying in bed all day is the best possible scenario you can come up with to take care of yourself.

And I felt I had to explain myself when I didn’t have an interest in anything when really I had no explanation other than it was the chemo drugs turning me into a zombie.

So it can mean the world to someone if you acknowledge you don’t understand their situation, but you want to try. Get down in the pit with them. Sit with them. Cry with them. Don’t give your sympathy, give your empathy.

“I will help get you through this.”

I couldn’t have pushed through cancer on my own. Unfortunately, many people do. And I just can’t imagine that.

Patients need a good team around them and a lot of times we feel cut off from the world. Many times friends begin to disappear from our lives because they don’t know what to do.

Saying that one phrase above can be such a comfort. Hearing that someone is devoted to getting you through or having someone be open to your emotions and pains of the day via text message helps immensely. Most of the time we just need to vent. Or we need a cute cat gif.

“I am here and I will help you get through this, no matter how long it takes.” We need to know we are still loved, we are still wanted, that we still matter. You’re probably thinking, “but of course you do and you should know that!” However, the chemo strips all of that from you – making you feel worthless.

I’m sure I could squeeze in a couple more, but these are at the tippy-top of the list and can be said over and over and over. If you know of someone struggling with cancer today, don’t hesitate to reach out and begin and end your conversation with all three.

Would you add anything to this list?

One response to “Things You Should Say to a Cancer Patient”

  1. Good stuff Christina. I’m so thankful you have the strength to revisit that dreadful time and use it to bring understanding and equipping of others so they can come along side cancer patients and know what to do and say. Thank you and as always, I’m praying for you! ❤️

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