I’m usually the worst for saying the wrong thing so I’m sympathetic when people get it wrong.  But I was stunned this week by a close friend getting it so very wrong.  My husband recently got troubling news and we need a lot more tests to find out whether it’s operable and he can be cured, or if it’s spread and his prognosis is very bad.  I told my friend that it’s so hard to believe it could be bad because he’s been feeling so well, but apparently you can go from feeling great to dead in 4 months.  Her reply?  “Well often that’s the best way to go.”!  I’m sitting here wondering if my husband has 40 more years or 4 months and that’s her reply?!?  Really I have to laugh because I know she just wasn’t thinking.  And as I said, usually I’m the one to get it wrong when I try to be encouraging…

  • Hi,

    I know before serious illness visited our family I said things probably without much thought because I was perhaps uncomfortable with the subject and just wanted to change the subject or shut the conversation down. Sometimes talking about cancer can seem even more difficult than discussing sex education. One of the classic books on cancer is Secret C: Straight Talking about Cancer by Julia Stokes.

    One thing that helped me was doing a living with less stress course - I came to realise that actually we all are mortal. I have even have friends with cancer die from a heart attack or even a car crash. We can worry about tomorrow all the time but it makes no difference to today - and today we are going to be ok.



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  • It’s true isn’t it?  None of us knows if we will be alive tomorrow.  However, cancer is one of those things when you can sometimes know that you definitely won’t be alive a year from now.  And yes that is so much more stressful than the uncertainty of normal life.

  • I left the town where I was born to go live in the country with my partner years ago who has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and today I was speaking to an old neighbour on the phone, and all she can think about is where I will move to when it is all over...  People can be very insensitive,  as if I need to think abut that right now...
  • I am sorry you and your husband are going through such a tough time and I wish him all the very best and hope you get good news.

    People say things unthinkingly sometimes and upon reflection I am sure your friend will be feeling terrible about her comment. I think what she likely meant is she feels that it is better to die quickly from cancer if there is no treatment available so your loved one doesn't have a long drawn out and painful passing but she phrased it horribly. 

    I really hope you get the results you want from the tests, My young daughter has leukaemia and has a difficult battle ahead of her and I also have friends who don't know what on earth to say and have said not very tactful comments but I know they mean well and they are uncomfortable and just gutted for myself and my husband and my other children.