• When you've told someone you had cancer did you get an idiot's response???

    Asked by ivyJ on Friday, April 3, 2015

    When you've told someone you had cancer did you get an idiot's response???

    When I told a lady I've known for years that I had cancer she responded with "Don't worry, you'll be okay." I guess they don't know what to say. Believe me, I'm not looking for self-pity, but a little understanding can go a long way.

    23 Answers from the Community

    23 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      Yes, this is a common problem we patients have, you will see some wild responses posted here from what some have been told. And you're right, most of the time they don't know what to say. Comments range from funny to insulting.

      about 5 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      At least she didn't rattle off a list of loved ones who had died of cancer! A neighbor of mine followed up my cancer "confession" by immediately telling me how her aunt and a cousin of hers had died of breast cancer. As if I didn't already know that cancer can be dangerous! Yes, some people just don't know what to say. Should be lessons for every adult, since more than half of us will develop some kind of cancer during our lifetime.

      about 5 years ago
    • amontoya's Avatar
      amontoya

      It's unfortunate but you can't fix stupid. What comes out of some people's mouths is simply amazing and most often should never have been said. Think of a good comeback to shock them into silence.

      about 5 years ago
    • Jalemans' Avatar
      Jalemans

      Oh yes. Ditto with Greg & Carool! I also have people (even strangers) ask me if I am in remission. That really upsets me because I don't really know how to answer & it is none of their business! I understand people don't know what to say but they could just say nothing or "sorry to hear that". Or how about people who tell you something like, "I know how you feel I had the flu for two weeks!" or something equally stupid. I try to just smile & nod.

      about 5 years ago
    • jugsila8's Avatar
      jugsila8

      It's very hard saying those words and also hard hearing/receiving that information. Many people just don't know how to respond. The words may not come out right, but in their hearts, they are probably hurting real bad. And they're trying their best to do/say the right thing to you.

      about 5 years ago
    • Crimson's Avatar
      Crimson

      With breast cancer, I had several people tell me to have both breast removed and "get new, perky ones!" One even offered fat from her butt, if I needed it!! A joke, but not funny when you are so frightened and trying to make all the right decisions. These were comments from supposedly intelligent people!

      about 5 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      People don't know what to say. If they say something light hearted, then they are presumed to be insensitive. If they say something too serious, like "I had an aunt that died from...." then they are being too critical or rude. It's a fine line of what is appropriate to say, and what isn't. I had people say things that I questioned, but then I just had to let it go. I was too sick to analyze everything that was said and how it was said. Sometimes, you just have to let things go. Don't over think everything that is said. Cancer, of any type, is hard enough to deal with and then you have to listen to weird things that people say.
      My own mom who didn't see me when I had no hair said something like "you must of looked horrible bald". It hurt like heck because it came from my mom.
      Let things go because words do hurt, even when they are not meant to.

      about 5 years ago
    • myronbob's Avatar
      myronbob

      I find when I joke around first and make some gallows humor it helps put friends at ease when they first hear about it . I guess everyone does what makes them comfortable . good luck . bob

      about 5 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar
      CAS1

      Try and also give people a break because they are shocked and afraid of Cancer. Its jarring for many people so they just go to auto blab.

      Everyone makes mistakes even us while undergoing a cancer battle. I say this NOT to discount your feelings because they are totally justified but only to suggest you let it go so it does not hurt you. Shake Shake Shake it off. Love that song because we ALL need to do more of that.

      about 5 years ago
    • IronMom45's Avatar
      IronMom45

      People had said I didn't need those "woman parts" anymore anyway. Hello cancer was in my lymphnodes and those "woman parts" aren't what make me a woman the double xx chromosome does. Ugh.

      about 5 years ago
    • ld_105's Avatar
      ld_105

      I think, in general, that people don't know what to say. My favorite response was, "You'll get a new breast, or free breast lift." Something to that effect. The good news is, with time, you start to forget. And, you learn not to tell people much of anything. I keep stuff to myself unless someone says something really stupid, like complaining about the cost of health insurance premiums while getting paid $100,000 a year. And then, I have to come back with the price of an AI which is about three to six hundred a month. And then, I remember to stop talking. People really don't want to hear about the reality of cancer, but that's just my opinion.

      about 5 years ago
    • 3tykes' Avatar
      3tykes

      I no longer tell people about my journey because i feel most people don't understand what i feel. Once a friend told me that she was glad it was not her cos she could not have been as strong as me and would not have been able to handle it.....as if i was given a choice!!!!

      about 5 years ago
    • 2bbcontinued's Avatar
      2bbcontinued

      First thing was, "so how long did they give you?"

      about 5 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      2bbcontinued, your idiot wins MY prize for "THE Most Clueless Response"! Sheesh!

      about 5 years ago
    • 2bbcontinued's Avatar
      2bbcontinued

      Yeah, I was stunned. Wasn't quite sure how to respond. I had been trying not to even think in those terms. It became very quiet for a minute. Then I told her I had no intention of letting anybody give me an expiration date.

      about 5 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar
      BuckeyeShelby

      My favorite actually goes the other direction. I worked through chemo. While I did not proclaim from the mountain tops that I had cancer, I didn't hide it either. If people politely asked, I told them. I was walking back from the lunchroom w/a coworker and she said she wasn't feeling well, and I mentioned that my last chemo had really hit me hard. She stopped and stared at me. "You have cancer??" Uh, yeah. Why do you think I've been wearing all these hats & scarves & turbans? "I thought you just liked hats..." I enjoyed that one.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Grammyma's Avatar
      Grammyma

      The worst response I got was when I told an old school friend that I had cancer. Her reply was that everyone has cancer!

      almost 5 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      I'll add my 2 cents-- a PCP-I don't do cancer---nurse at oncology - that I was taking resources from people with real cancer--that I had a spiritual problem to have such a thing---Being inside an inner room in a large building and being told that I should be wearing my hat. I had abeauty-I got a new PCP and he asked what I ate-weight issue. I told him the ACS diet for this beast- He asked, "Just what is the ACS?" So it keeps going on.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Jean-Luc's Avatar
      Jean-Luc

      I found (so far) an array of reactions and stupid things told me when people learn about my cancer.

      It seems that most people either mean well, or don't care, or are afraid.

      Lots of them regardless of their reaction are tactless and say hurtful things ... and - unlike the few who are real jerks and do it intentionally - likely have no idea that they do so.

      I believe that unless one has the cancer experience, one has no idea what it is like and does not know what to say.

      Retrospectively, I can think of instances where (before I had cancer), I probably have said hurtful things myself to people who were gravely sick, and did not realize it at the time.
      (granted, this was likely in the form of a pun, not making fun of the person but of the disease, but still, I have no excuse)

      Now I pay more attention to the tone of voice, the body language, and HOW it is said, than what is said.
      I learn and tend to be lenient and give some people some leeway, while for the obvious rude ones who don't give a crap and enjoy being rude, I either ignore them, or serve them a comeback which shuts them up.

      almost 5 years ago
    • Jean-Luc's Avatar
      Jean-Luc

      We should make a collection of all the stupid and rude and insensitive answers we each get! :)
      Same thing with the actual good, helpful ones.

      almost 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      There are people who, perhaps, are too empathic. They also have fear.Sometimes the fear is so big, they can't hear you. It hurts too much. So they skip through the empathy because it is too shocking or them and proceed to wish you the best but please, without themselves in the picture.

      I learned this when I broke a rib. It was painful and I asked the young clerk to carry a very light package for me. She foolishly asked how it was that I wouldn't carry some thing so lightweight and, even more foolishly, I told her. She began crying. I had to put my own pain aside and comfort her.

      Not everything needs be shared with everyone. Let them assume what they like.It keeps life interesting.

      Best wishes for a steady recovery.

      almost 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      The best answer I ever heard was "That must be quite a health challenge."

      The answer accepted what I'd said, decided not to leave it as a barrier between our friendship and intimated that it could be overcome, as can other of life's challenges.

      I was impressed.

      almost 5 years ago
    • MichaelS's Avatar
      MichaelS

      I think there are not too many idiot responses to a clumsy topic for which there are no rules for communicating by the person with cancer nor the person being informed. I think you have to look at one thing. Is the person trying to be encouraging and sympathetic? I think we all have wanted to say something nice to someone about a difficult topic and it didn't come out right. To blame others is hypocritical to me unless the person's response has malice in it.

      almost 5 years ago

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