What is the right thing to say to someone who has cancer?

In recent conversations, I’ve heard people describe feeling insulted or annoyed or even angry by comments made by other people.  Comments include things like “You look great” or “You don’t even look sick” or “Don’t worry. Everything will be OK” or “I know someone who had that and lived a long, healthy life”.  We all know that people are trying to be helpful with these comments.  Sometimes people are projecting their own hopes and fears.  I honestly believe that there is no right thing to say to someone and so that can make everything seem like the wrong thing. It is clear that people have the best of intentions.  I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and do not read into any comments, but that may be difficult for others.  Food for thought for all of us, even for those of us who have an illness and are talking to someone else with an illness.  We don’t necessarily know someone’s diagnosis or prognosis or mental or physical state and we should be aware that we probably know a lot less than we think we do about what that person is experiencing.

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