|Hair growth, nearly |
2 years post chemo
"Wow, look at your hair!"
"Are you trying to grow your hair longer?"
"I liked your hair shorter."
"What happen to your curly hair?"
The next time you cross paths with a survivor consider the following:
- Be honest. Let the person know you don’t know what to say. It’s okay to share your awkwardness, they will understand! Let the survivor guide the conversation and decide the topics to discuss. No matter what direction the conversation takes, just acknowledging the person and saying hello means a lot.
- Ask questions. Asking questions shows you care. If the survivor is willing to discuss details, they will; often sharing the experience can be therapeutic. However, you may find the survivor reluctant to talk about their treatments. A vague response like “I'm just glad to have it all behind me now", would be a cue to switch gears and move on to another topic.
- Don’t let cancer dominate the conversation. Cancer fighters are hungry for a sense of normalcy. Feel free to continue conversations that took place before diagnosis. This doesn’t mean you should ignore they had an illness, but know they are grateful to have conversations on other subjects. Most importantly, the survivor will recognize that you still see them as a friend and not just a cancer patient.
- Congratulate them on feeling better and for fighting. Avoid using phrases that include “you’re cured” or “glad you beat this”; survivors are not cured of cancer, they are simply in remission; meaning there are no signs or symptoms of cancer currently present. Alternatively, you could say “I’m so glad you fought” or “Congratulations, you must be happy to have chemo behind you!”
- Show positivity. The best compliment I received after treatment was “You handle the entire situation with grace.” If you find the survivor’s fight to be inspiring, say it! Every fighter has overcome physical and personal struggles to be here and would love to know that you recognize their efforts.
Regardless of the topic or the amount of words exchanged, know that survivors are grateful for the friends, and acquaintances that continue to be a part of their journey.