What to say to someone who just got the news

What can you say? I know I didn’t want to hear that I was going to be okay, or that I needed to “fight,” or that I would be a “survivor.” Those phrases were too cliche and they scared me. A month or so after my diagnosis I had someone ask me what they should say to a friend who was given the same grim news. Here’s my text:

“Please tell her that I am here for any insight or advice or support if she needs it. This is going to be a major trip for her for a few weeks with twists and turns all over the place and when it was my turn I felt a lot better talking about it with other people who had gone through it.

Tell her to beware of the internet. It is your nemesis right now. Get good doctors and listen to them and only get online for targeted info or it will drive you crazy. Only use the Internet to improve your diet but wait for all the test results to come in first.

She will get through this. Shock is inevitable and will pass. So is sadness and anger but that will pass too. She will find her own way to make sense of the process and get through it. From what I’ve learned its best to stay away from the big picture and focus only on the components. Cancer is systemic and it’s easier to deal with one thing at a time.”

She did reach out to me later and we had lots of conversations , like this one:

“Just take it one thing at a time. Wait to think about chemo til you get two opinions and the lymph node pathology report.i only decided not to do chemo after my surgery when they were able to dissect and biopsy my lymph nodes and find nothing. There are a lot of people who have refused it and beat cancer even when it was stage 3 and 4 but don’t even start considering it until you get all the results and 2 opinions or you’ll drive yourself crazy.

For me, this period (the one you’re going through) was the hardest because there were so many questions and uncertainties and I was scared. It gets easier to cope with once you have all the information. I think you’ll feel more in control.

Just get through this next week however you can, even if it means Xanax and wine or whatever. Remember that even though it is SO HARD to wait for them, the answers will come.

I’ll always probably have this cancer thing in the back of my mind, but for now it’s more like PTSD!

Be tough. Feel what you need to feel and melt down if you need to.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s