Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cancer Speak 101

It has come to our attention via our own observations and experiences plus, people asking and admitting they do not know what to do or say when it comes to communicating with a cancer patient. This, keep in mind, is not all of you and not all people but some of you are struggling with it. Where to start?

First, Ron has never had cancer before and this is a learning curve for him too. His responses can be equally as awkward as your greetings or questions. Oh, I am sure there are 'how to' books but Ron and I figured we would give you a lesson from our point of view. Keep in mind, the more you practice refining your tactics, comments, questions etc, the more comfortable you will be. Ron may be the first cancer patient you are associating with but unfortunately he will not be the last.

I will tell you that, if you tell Ron you have had a bad day, month or year, or if you think things just cannot get any worse, he will suggest in a humorous way that you trade places with him.

Have courage to work through the uncomfortable stuff. Remember it will get easier. Think of Ron as your Cancer Speak Mentor. You eventually want to move on to everyday conversation; boats, cars, your plans, our plans etc. When we visit with friends and family, the whole visit is not focused on cancer - how mundane can that get. Unless the cancer conversation is enlightening, work toward another topic. Laughter is the best medicine so humour is very welcome.

There is an old saying, "If you are not prepared for the answer, don't ask the question." Having said that, it is good to ask questions. Only by asking questions will you find out where to take the conversation or perhaps how long to visit, or how long we will visit you.

If you have not seen Ron since discovering that he has cancer, it is a good idea to acknowledge that you know. That way, Ron knows you know and you know he knows you know.

You can greet Ron with a simple statement or question:
Hey, Dude you are looking great today (or crappy depending on how he really looks- hee hee)
Dude, good to see you. What have you been up to?
Dude, what have you and Janice been doing lately?
Good to see you, how are you feeling these days?
Or a plain and simple good morning (or afternoon or evening).

Sincerity is very important. Empty suggestions and promises do not translate into "I care about you as a friend." If you want to suggest coffee, suggest it with a date. If you want us to visit, pick a date and ask. We will do the same for you.

Feel free to drop a line by email ( for Ron and for Janice) Telephone works too. Some people might be waiting for us to call them so not to infringe on our time and privacy We say to these people, did you ever think that we might be waiting for you to call us for fear of us infringing on your time and privacy? Get the hint? It works both ways. This is meant to make you laugh.... telephone calls are good - especially if you have picked up the phone to call us before. No need to change what you use to do.

Please, please trust me when I say that Ron is not, and I repeat not contagious. No need to avoid us whatsoever! We love to socialize, we love company; we love our family and friends. You, all of you, are our lifeline to good times, laughter and memories.

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