When somebody you know is diagnosed with cancer, it’s often a helpless feeling. What should I say to them? What should I NOT say? Should I send them something? Make a casserole? Buy them a pet zebra?
When I first announced my diagnosis, nearly everyone treated me like a lost puppy. “Awwww, I’m sooo sorry,” as they looked down at me with wide, telescope-like eyes that inspected my face for traces of emotion. Their forlorn faces were swathed in pity for a girl with tough luck. A wilted flower.
We don’t want people to feel sorry for us. We just want somebody to tell us that we’re going to be okay. Don’t make us drown in a sea of your melancholy tears. We need an ambassador of hope. We need a friend.
'Well, what does that mean? How exactly do I be a friend?'
It's easy, guys. We learned this stuff when we were in kindergarten.
Ask if they want to borrow your crayons, or sit next to you at the lunch table. See if they want to hang out after school, or play on the swings at recess. Bring them an extra cupcake in your Mickey Mouse lunchbox. I’m talking about the basic acts of kindness that we learned as children — the same ones that, as adults, we tend to shy away from.
As adults, we now have egos, social awkwardness, and selfish tendencies. We will procrastinate reaching out to people in need because we “don’t know what to say” until it’s too late, and then we sweep these neglected relationships under a rug like they never existed. It’s the worst thing you can ever do to a cancer patient.
One simple message is all you need to send. A card, a text, a carrier pigeon if you must, saying “I’m here for you if you need me. You’re a strong person and you are not alone in this fight. Let me know if there is any way