Loved Ones & Cancer

When a Loved One Has Cancer: An Important Message for Family & Friends

by Amanda Grabler, Copyright © June 2018

Cancer is hard on everyone, not just the person who has it.

And people, including friends and family, often don’t know what to say to that person. Which is in and of itself okay — it’s a normal reaction, I think. But where you go from there can say a lot to the person who does have cancer. Maybe more than you’re intending.

We lost a dear friend to cancer several years ago. T knew her when she was first diagnosed. I met her after she was in remission – which lasted a number of years. We went to a roller derby with her once. Bowling once. I wish there had been more fun times. I worked with her when she was in active chemo. I went to see her in the hospital when I could get a ride down.

Was it awkward sometimes at work when she was in treatment again? Yes. Was I unsure what to say? Yes. What did I do? I followed her lead. If she wanted to talk about it, I did. I listened. If she wanted to talk about work, I did. If she wanted to just have a normal chat about movies, and travelling, and regular life, I did that too.***

And in the hospital? By then? Especially the second time . . . I’m not sure she knew who I was. But I went. And I wish I’d gone more. I wish we the we had done more together. I wish we had visited more. Talked more – about anything.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your loved one doesn’t recognize you, or has passed away, to say you wish you had spent more time together.


Move heaven and earth to be with them. Don’t force them to be the one to reach out to you, especially if they, and/or their loved one(s) have already shared time and time again that they want to hear from people. That they want visitors.

It’s NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about them. And what they need.

If they’re continuously telling you that they want to hear from people; that they want visitors….If getting together, if being physically shown that you care enough to reach out, is what they are telling you, point blank, is important, that being with people is the best medicine? Call. Visit. MAKE AN EFFORT.

Yes, there are going to be times when a visit is arranged and they simply can’t. And, yes, this may happen at the last minute. Be understanding. Yes, it may have inconvenienced you because of what you did to make the trip, but put yourself in THEIR shoes.

Can you imagine how hurtful it is if people, especially family, childhood friends, close friends, etc, never call? Never visit? Never even comment on posts or only say “prayers” even if you know the person isn’t religious? (Or “You’ve got this!” or some other empty words?)


And if you’re not, you don’t deserve to regret when it’s too late.

For those of you who have traveled long distances to be there, and/or opened up your home to us? You’re appreciated beyond words. Thank you.

*** Teresa wants you to know that it is okay to ask questions about what she’s going through, about LMS, about chemo, et cetera. 

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