BBC3: Things not to say to someone with cancer

Hi everyone,

BBC3 have released an interesting video based on things not to say to someone with cancer. I'm posting it here because some of the people involved have had contact with Macmillan services.

Of all the challenges you might face after a cancer diagnosis, the reactions of those around you might seem low on the list.

Yet for these people it's something they've had to contend with. They take us through some of the comments and questions that they've had to field - from enquiries about their appearance to well-meant pep talks and 'inspirational' stories.

What do you think about this topic? Have you had experience of this?


  • Just watched, everything was so true.

    Thanks for informing us about this, other wise but have got to see this.

    Ellie x 

  • great video, I'll certainly give it a showing on my blog!


  • Jazmine, thank you so much for posting this video. It really resonated. Yes, I know it is very difficult to know what to say to someone who has cancer, but I think the worst I have had is "You could get run over by a bus". Yes, I could - but I still have an incurable cancer. As this video has brilliantly demonstrated, people with cancer can communicate so well with each other and are free to laugh and joke as well as knowing that they can be honest; but I feel there is a glass wall that separates us from people who don't have cancer.

    I have incredible love and support from family & friends, but being told I am brave and inspirational is a lot to live up to. It often takes away your ability to be weak, to cry and say that this is not fair, I don't to be living my life like this. As one person in the video said, every little thing that goes wrong with you, you immediately think "Oh God, the cancer has come back". I recently had an emergency oncology admission because one of my legs wasn't working - immediate reaction? The bone cancer has spread or I have a brain tumour. Fortunately, the scans ruled that out (as well as MS & Motor Neoron), but still waiting for results of the blood tests and neurology referral.

    Also I hate the people who whisper: "How are you?" or say "You're looking amazing". My reply to the first is, yes I have cancer but I am not dying. And to the second, there's nothing wrong with my face.

    I would love to pass this video on to my family & friends (as well as other people who I know have cancer). Is there a link that will take me directly there?

    Unbalanced of Cambridge

  • 'You could get run over by a bus' This is what a nurse said to me 2 days after my operation for cancer after I had asked her what my chances were. A few weeks after I was worried about other pains I was getting and I phoned Macmillan to speak to a nurse. I explained that I had my operation and that the doctor had said I had an 85% chance of making it to the next 5 years. When I said that the nurse replied 'They only say that to make you feel better as they don't know' !!!


  • Thanks very much, Michael

    Unbalanced of Cambridge

  • It was said to me by my sister-in-law! I know she was trying to give me some perspective, and that she loves me. But it really didn't help!

    You would think that nurses should be better trained that to say something like that. It really isn't relevant! I don't know the statistics - and neither do I want to Google them - but I would suspect that more people die from cancer than a collision with a bus!

    Unbalanced of Cambridge

  • My sister said to me that any of us could get run over by a bus. I'd recently had an incurable diagnosis. I ignored her. So she said it again...

  • Don't tell me that I can be cured by bicarb, cannabis oil, hydrotherapy, leaches, "natural" therapies, peach stones, or drinking my own urine (or anyone else's urine for that matter).  

    Don't tell me that the doctors must have made a mistake with my diagnosis.