Cancer. The very word evokes a flurry of emotions and images. When a dear friend or cherished family member whispers that dread-filled word, our minds tumble like clumsy acrobats, scrambling for the right words. Desperately, we wish to be the pillar of support they need, yet we're held back by the chains of uncertainty and fear of saying the wrong thing. If you've been nodding along, thinking, "Yup, that's me," well, fret not! This guide might just be your map through this maze.

Spreading Positivity to Friends with Cancer Infographic - What to say

What to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone with Cancer:

1. Specific Help Over Broad Gestures: Remember the time when you couldn't choose a dish from a vast restaurant menu and wished they just had three options? That's how someone with cancer might feel when you say, "Let me know if there’s anything I can do." A well-meaning gesture, yes, but potentially overwhelming. Instead, try:

  • "Hey, I'm making some chicken soup tomorrow. Would you like a bowl?"
  • "I'm heading to the grocery store tomorrow. Need me to pick up anything for you?"
  • "How about I take care of your lawn this weekend? You relax and chill."
  • "Feel like Italian? I'm making spaghetti tonight. I can drop some off!"

2. The Language of Thoughtful Gifts: Gifts are like the emojis of real life. They add color, emotion, and sometimes, a little flair. But always remember to consider the person's needs. A gas card for those never-ending hospital trips or a meal delivery service can be priceless. And speaking of comfort, have you heard of Dr. Socko's hospital grip socks?

  • "I heard these Dr. Socko's hospital grip socks are all the rage in the patient fashion scene!"
  • "Got you this book. Figured it might be a good distraction on those long hospital days."
  • "I put together a little pamper package for you – bath bombs, candles, and some calming teas."
  • "I saw these quirky bandanas and thought they'd look fabulous on you. For those days you want a change!"

3. Flowers - The Timely Blossoms: Flowers are nature's emojis – vibrant, expressive, and sometimes, just downright pretty. But here's a tip: it's not always about the first bouquet.

  • "These sunflowers reminded me of your sunny spirit. Thought they might light up your room."
  • "I thought these roses might bring a little color to your day. Enjoy!"
  • "Picked these wildflowers on my walk. They seemed so full of life, just like you!"
  • "Gerbera daisies to match your vibrant personality. Hope they make you smile!"

4. Human Connection: A Timeless Gift:  In the age of digital connections and fleeting interactions, a true human connection can act as a comforting blanket, wrapping its warmth around the soul. It's like a favorite tune playing in the background, a subtle reminder that one is not alone. Especially during challenging times, being there – whether virtually or physically – can make all the difference.

  • "How about we binge-watch your favorite series this weekend? My treat!"
  • "Let’s have a virtual coffee date tomorrow. What time suits you?"
  • "You up for a board game night this week? I promise not to let you win too easily!"
  • "Need some company during chemo? I'll bring the magazines and snacks!"

5. The No-Advice Club: It's a natural instinct to want to provide solutions, especially when someone we care about is facing challenges. We're all guilty of quickly jumping to, "Well, have you tried this?" But sometimes, the most needed remedy isn't advice; it's simply a listening ear. It's about creating a safe space where one can share without the looming cloud of unsolicited advice.

  • "Whatever you wish to share, I'm here, ears wide open."
  • "Your journey, your choices. I'm just here to support."
  • "Tell me how you feel, and I'll just listen. No judgments. No advice."
  • "You're the captain of this ship, and I'm your trusty crewmate. Just lead the way."

6. Embrace Their Strength: Often, we focus so much on the disease that we forget the person battling it. Amidst the painful treatments and tiring days, they summon a strength that's nothing short of heroic. Recognizing this strength isn't just about compliments; it's a reminder that despite the odds, their spirit remains unbroken and inspiring.

  • "Your strength is astounding. Just know, I'm by your side, every step of the way."
  • "You're handling this with such grace. Truly inspiring!"
  • "Each day, I'm amazed at your resilience. You’re truly incredible."
  • "Thought these would be fitting for you!" [While handing over Dr. Socko's “Stronger than a MuFKR” grip socks.]

7. The Small Victory Parade: When facing an Everest-like challenge, every step taken is a milestone. These small victories might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things but celebrating them can offer a glimmer of hope. It's about focusing on the journey and not just the destination, taking a moment to acknowledge and rejoice in the progress made.

  • "Heard you had a good day today. Let’s celebrate with some ice cream!"
  • "So you managed a whole meal today? That's fantastic! What's the next goal?"
  • "Every step, no matter how small, is a victory. Keep pushing!"
  • "You managed a short walk? That’s brilliant! Every bit counts."

8. The Gift of Silence: In a world where noise is constant, silence can be a soothing melody. It's not about the absence of sound, but rather the presence of understanding. Being there, without the need for words, can sometimes convey support more profoundly than any sentence ever could. 

  • "Anytime you want to chat, or even not chat, I'm here."
  • "Here for you, whether you want to talk or enjoy some peaceful quiet."
  • "Let’s sit together, watch the sunset, and say nothing at all."
  • “Remember, silence is perfectly okay. I'm comfortable if you are.”

9. The Humorous Approach: When clouds of uncertainty gather, a chuckle can be that unexpected silver lining. While sensitivity is paramount, a dash of humor, when appropriate, can lighten the mood and offer a brief escape from the trials of the moment.

  • "On the bright side, now you have a legitimate reason to avoid my disastrous cooking!"
  • "Got you a bald cap. Now we can be twins!"
  • "Thinking positive: At least you'll save on shampoo!"
  • “So when do you get your superhero cape? Because you're definitely one in my book!” 

10. A Token of Continuity: Cancer might change the course of daily life, but it doesn't have the power to erase cherished traditions and memories. Keeping up with these, in any way possible, is a declaration that while some things might change, the bonds and memories remain untouched.

  • "Remember our annual marathon of watching the worst movies ever? Cancer isn’t getting in the way of that tradition!"
  • "Our tradition of baking fails? Let's keep it going. I bet we can outdo last year’s disaster!"
  • "Weekly movie nights? They're on, cancer or no cancer!"
  • “Remember our DIY spa days? I think it’s time for another.” 

11. Reassurance of Unwavering Support: The journey with cancer is dotted with twists and turns, peaks of hope and valleys of despair. In this roller coaster of emotions, sometimes the most profound support isn't in grand gestures but in the consistent, unwavering presence of someone who cares. It's a silent pledge of "I'm here, no matter what.

  • "Rain or shine, good days or bad, I'm here. Always."
  • "I'm here, through the highs and lows. Count on me."
  • "Just a reminder that you don’t have to go through this alone. Ever."
  • "No matter the journey, you have a friend in me."

In wrapping up, figuring out what to say to someone with cancer might feel like you're walking on a tightrope. But remember, it's not about the grand gestures or eloquent speeches. It's about showing up, being genuine, and sometimes, just being there. So, whenever in doubt about what to say, remember: it's often more about 'how' than 'what.' Navigate with your heart, and you'll seldom go wrong.

For more insights on hospital-related topics, be sure to check out our other blog posts:

About Dr. Socko Hospital Socks

Our mission is to provide laughter and joy to people going through tough times. It's especially needed in a hospital. Often, patients receive hospital gifts like flowers, teddy bears or cards. We have heard several requests for changes in the traditional hospital grip sock, like making it fitted, removing the toe seam, creating better designs, and adding hospital sock colors. We've launched our own take on hospital grip socks based on this feedback and hope you love it as much as the traditional ones! Our hospital grip socks are for those who need a smile, in and out of the ER in any slippery situation.

Check out the different hospital sock colors we offer in our collection.

A patient walking in Dr. Socko hospital grip socks
August 28, 2023