What Not to Say to Someone with Cancer (and 10 Others Ways You Can Help)

Want to be helpful? Then avoid saying these 10 things to friends and loved ones with cancer

People say all kinds of things when confronted with someone else's illness. Some are meant to be helpful, others are just inappropriate. This list of things to avoid saying to a friend or loved one with cancer was collected from the 7,000 I Had Cancer members who are patients, survivors and caregivers. The community stays active and participates in the recovery process, providing hope, support and information to one another so we can all heal.

Top 10 Worst Things to Say to Someone Fighting Cancer:

1. “If you‘re going to get cancer, that’s the best one to get.” Really?!

2. “You are strong, no biggie.”

3. “How long do you have?”

4. “I know how you must feel.”

5. “You’re such a hero for fighting this!”

6. “I just know you will beat this!”

7. “How are you feeling?”

8. “You must have done something to get this.”

9. “They have a cure for cancer, but they make too much money from it to ever let it stop.”

10. “I feel so sorry for you!”

10 Ways to Be Helpful to People Fighting Cancer:

1. Instead of offering to do “anything to help," be specific. If you really want to lend a hand, simply offer to do things like pick up take out to or walk the dog – it's much easier to accept an offer for help than asking for it.

2. Spend time together! Cancer can be an isolating experience; sometimes it feels good to do normal, everyday things with friends and family. It’s nice to forget about cancer for a minute. Coffee anyone?

3. Share success stories -- they are more hopeful and encouraging than hearing statistics and theories.

4. Organize free help! There are many great non-profits that provide help, but it can be time consuming to do the research. Help out by getting some of the leg work done.

5. Share a laugh! Send a joke or watch a funny movie together

6. Cozy blankets, organic tea, massages and prepared meals are always welcome.

7. Let them cry and listen without judgment. It’s okay that you don’t know what to say! Just being around is enough.

8. Forgive them for being moody.

9. If they don’t feel like company, give them space without asking them to explain or apologize for wanting to be alone.

10. Know that they are grateful for your help, even when they forget to let you know.

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