20 Things We Want Strangers to Know About Having Cancer

by bnmcnabb

Things We Want To Strangers To Know About Cancer

Background: WhatNext.com is an online support network developed in partnership with the American Cancer Society that helps help cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers gain firsthand insight into living with cancer and connect with others facing a similar diagnosis. Members of WhatNext.com are sometimes referred to as "WhatNexters."

How many times have you been out and about or in line at the store and someone has been staring? Visible signs of cancer can sometimes betray us; side effects like hair loss can attract those hurtful glances. We asked WhatNexters, if they could wear a sign around their neck, what would it say and what would they want strangers to know about having cancer. Here are a few humble responses from WhatNexters and Facebook contributors

1. Cancer is not contagious.

Life Goes On Via Well.Blogs.Nytimes.Com

via well.blogs.nytimes.com

"I'm tired and weak. I'm fighting a hard battle, but I'm not contagious." - amontoya

2. Please don't tell me about anyone who has died of cancer. 

Survivor Stories

via dreamstime.com

"Sadly, more than one person when they heard that I had cancer said things along the lines of 'My aunt (mother, sister) died of that! It was just awful' Yikes...keep it to yourself please! Once I was sarcastic enough to reply..'Thanks for sharing that encouraging bit of news.' I could tell she was very embarrassed. I think all of us sometimes say things under stress before thinking it through." - leslie48240

3. Please don't ignore me just because you do not know what to say. Talk to me about normal stuff.

Feeling Invisible With Cancer

via psd.fanextra.com 

"Please don't ignore people who have cancer just because you don't know how to deal with it. Ask, 'How are you?' Keep it generic. Don't assume I'm on my way out or treat me like I am invisible. I've had people at work ask me when or if I'm leaving. I answer strongly, 'I'm not leaving!' Talk to me about normal stuff. The weather, sports teams, family, anything!" - ld_105

4. It's okay to approach me if you are sincere. 

Cancer Hug

via dailymail.co.uk

"After a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk that I participated in when I had just finished chemo, we stopped in a restaurant - a lady approached me and asked if I was battling cancer - I said yes - she hugged me and said that I would be in her prayers. Her openness and true compassion was very acceptable to me at that moment." - JennyMiller

5. Your kindness matters. 

Kindness Cancer

via pinterest.com

"I want people to know that I do have cancer, but I have every intention of winning this battle, but I will be less than 100% for a while. Your kindness does make it easier." - dallasgirl

Find effective ways to support someone with cancer here.

6. Cancer is not for wimps. 

Woman Shaving Head Via Photogalleray.Indianatimes.Com

via photogallery.indianatimes.com

"I want them to know that people diagnosed with cancer are some of the toughest people you will find because they are in the toughest fight ever, the fight for life." - derbygirl

Read about some of our toughest WhatNexters here, here, and here.

7. There are no stupid questions. 

Just Ask About Cancer

via reggiebibs.com

"Ask me about cancer! There are no stupid questions! I believe that would put both the stranger and me at ease." - BoiseB

8. Everyone does cancer differently. 

 Every Cancer Journey Unique

via mashable.com

"Everyone does cancer differently. Please don't compare." - MMarie

9. Cancer does not define me. 

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer

via whatnext.com/pinboard

"Please don't label me 'Cancer.' Cancer doesn’t define me, it’s just my current situation. I can live my life and have cancer!" - Facebook contributor, CM

10. Please cheer me on. 

Ring The Bell Via Bigasssuperstar.Com

via bigassuperstart.com

"I am fighting the fight and winning. Please cheer me on!" - kaseylady

11. Even you can encourage me. 

Encouragement For Cancer

via pinterest.com

"Even your positive encouragement, as a stranger, helps me in the biggest fight of my life." - Powhatantea

"I was encouraged from a stranger when someone saw me without hair and frail, they approached and said they were praying for a full recovery. I have also had someone come up and just shake my hand and ask how the treatment was going, since it was pretty obvious I was in treatment. It's true though, anyone can encourage us, by a smile, gesture, small words, or whatever." - GregP_WN

12. I appreciate your support even though I don't know you.

Kindness To Those With Cancer

via evolvemovement.com

"One instance that sticks out is the butcher at our local store. He doesn't know me but he could tell I was ill. I had just had round one of chemo. My daughter was with me. He seemed a bit perplexed then he smiled and and tried to make light jokes. I don't know why but it touched me that a stranger cared enough to try to lift my spirits." - mcshap

13. I don't need your pity. 

People With Cancer Don't Need Your Pity

via liveyourbestlifeguide.com

"I don't need your pity, but I would love your support." - SueRae1

WhatNexters have said that even a kind word, smile, laugh, or hug can bring inspiration to their day and give them encouragement (yes, even from a stranger) to keep fighting. The bravery that it takes for a stranger to say something or to offer kindness is much more inspiring than any amount of pity they could ever give someone with cancer.

14. Support us by getting involved. 

Get Rid Of Cancer

via blog.mysanantonio.com

"Support us through action and get involved in the cancer community where you can. It makes a difference." - BELLA2013

15. I am still a person who has feelings. Please accept me.

What Is It Like To Have Cancer

via google.com

"I would just like people to remember that I am still me and I still have feelings. I am a fighter and I have bumps in the road. They are big bumps but it does not change who I am. We just need to accept each other." - KimL

16. Please forgive me if I seem upset or emotional.

Emotional Cancer

via dailymail.co.uk

"I want people to know that although I do my best to show everything is okay, deeply inside I am scared and I believe I will always be, so forgive me if sometimes I discharge my emotions on you. I promise I will feel worse than you will about it." - glam

17. Cancer can happen to anyone at any age.

Cancer Can Happen To Anyone

"Cancer can happen to anyone at any age. With that perspective in mind, I appreciate all the love and support coming my way because it gives me the strength to fight and get better." - Lynne-I-Am

18. Get all your preventative cancer check ups!

Early Detection Saves Lives

via lifewith4boys.com

"I want people to see me and remember to get all your preventative cancer checkups! They are more important than people realize." - Facebook contributor, SMD

19. Carpe diem.

Change Now

via bobgroves.com

"I want to ask people, 'If you were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, what would you change about your life.' And then urge them to make those changes now because you never know what tomorrow holds." - Clyde

20. And...I am a survivor.

Cancer Survivor

via therobhealy.com

"My sign would simply say 'Survivor.'" - Deidre

If you've been diagnosed with cancer, take a minute to join the WhatNext community and find others near you who have been in your shoes. There’s no better way to get first-hand insights into living with cancer than by connecting with others who are currently doing just that.

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