Day: September 17, 2020

10 Things Not to Say to Someone with Breast (Or Any Other) Cancer

Welcome to October. The leaves are showing their vibrant fall colors. Pumpkin spice everything can be found everywhere, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month is underway.
Learning that a friend, family member, or coworker has breast (or any other) cancer is hard. Figuring out what to say next is harder. As a two-time cancer survivor, I know that there are plenty of things not to say to a cancer patient because I’ve heard most of them.

I’ve written my experiences and learnings down in my book Again: Surviving Cancer Twice With Love And Lists and I will share with you here important questions, phrases, or topics to avoid.

At least you have a good cancer.

No cancer is a “good” cancer. This is a backhanded way of asking about the patient’s prognosis. Rather than asking for such information, let the individual know that you’re there to listen and let her share what she’s comfortable sharing.

Cancer isn’t as hard as it used to be.

When I was fourteen years old in 1981 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer was really hard, especially when I threw up day after day from radiation treatment and couldn’t go to high school. Thirty-five years later when I was forty-nine—a wife, mom of three, and professional—with breast cancer, cancer still was really hard, especially after I lost my hair, had agonizing bone pain, and diarrhea during months of chemotherapy. While advances in cancer treatment have improved over the years, any treatment stinks. It’s okay to say, “This really sucks.” Because it does and thanks for noticing.

Are you getting the boob job with the tummy tuck?

A lumpectomy or a single or bilateral mastectomy is not a “boob job.” It’s the amputation of some or all of the breast tissue, possibly including nipples, and often resulting in the complete loss of sensation in the chest. Reconstruction, if chosen, may be done with implants or with some form of flap reconstruction where the surgeon may use tissue from other body parts to reconstruct the breasts. These are painful surgeries with fairly long recoveries and leave individuals profoundly changed in their self-identities and in their sex lives. So, not a tummy tuck.

Does it run in your family? Maybe you should have worked out more.

No one asks for a cancer diagnosis. It’s not anyone’s fault if they get one. Please leave the “should have” lectures at home and avoid attributing an individual’s cancer diagnosis to something they may or may not have done, such as the food they ate, their exercise habits, or family history.

My mother, sister, friend, grandma . . . had cancer. She died.

Individuals’ cancer experiences and outcomes are different, and these stories may not always be helpful or comforting, particularly if death is involved. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes, would you want someone to say that to you?

Have you heard about [this new treatment, supplement, anti-cancer diet]?

When I was in treatment, I received much unsolicited advice. I had a great team of medical professionals whom I trusted, and I didn’t want to hear about the latest Internet “cures,” ginger chews for nausea, or turmeric tea’s anti-inflammatory properties. Respect the patient – and her choices.

I Know How You Feel.

No, you don’t. But, you can ask her how she’s feeling.

You’re so brave, strong, an inspiration . . .

do not to say to a cancer patient

While not unkind, these expressions discount how individuals with cancer may feel, which, more often than not, may be sad, angry, terrified, and anxious.

You look great.

Cancer may come with hair loss, weight loss or gain, changes in skin tone, etc. Trust me, the patient knows she doesn’t look great and is probably upset about it. Instead, simply tell the individual how great it is to see her.

Nothing.

not to say to a cancer patient

If you’re not sure what to say, then say so. Don’t ghost your friend, family member, or coworker due to your fear or unease. It’s about her, not you.

So what can you do?

Remember that the person with whom you’re speaking is the same person she always has been. Listen or offer words of encouragement and support. Ask what you can do to help them in practical, concrete ways, such as making meals, taking them to appointments, or picking up children from school. Finally, talk to them about something, anything, other than cancer.

If you would like to learn more, read about my journey in my new book

The post 10 Things Not to Say to Someone with Breast (Or Any Other) Cancer appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

TechCrunch statement on sweep at our venue

There have been a couple of articles published in the last two days reporting on an impromptu sweep that took place outside of a venue we are using for our TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week. We wanted to detail what we know about what happened and the steps that are being taken to make this right.

This week we are hosting a virtual version of our TechCrunch Disrupt conference from a studio in San Francisco. In order to stage the show we rented a venue from a company named Non Plus Ultra

Yesterday we were informed by Non Plus Ultra that a reporter had reached out to ask about a sweep that had taken place in the early hours of last Thursday morning before our team arrived. This was the first time we had heard about Non Plus Ultra having coordinated an unsanctioned sweep outside of their building. 

This was not an action that we asked Non Plus Ultra to perform and is not something that we would ever ask them to do. Upon further investigation, we discovered that belongings and personal effects had been removed or discarded by a private company hired by Non Plus Ultra.

This is absolutely unacceptable, and we’re working to take immediate action. First, we will no longer be working with Non Plus Ultra at any of their venues in San Francisco for any TechCrunch event in the future. 

In addition, Non Plus Ultra has committed to working with local partners Community Housing Partnership, and DISH to support the homeless community on 12th Street. They are also committing to set up a system to replace or, where possible, return property to the people who were unfairly targeted by this sweep. TechCrunch will ensure that Non Plus Ultra follows through on these commitments. 

The city of San Francisco continues to struggle with a housing crisis and a large houseless population. Our neighbors who are living on the streets are suffering even more as they endure a pandemic and hazardous air quality from the California wildfires.

Everyone deserves to be treated with compassion and humanity, regardless of how or where they live. TechCrunch focuses on technology and the economy that drives it; much of that economy is centered in and around the Bay Area. 

Many of us live in San Francisco and in the surrounding areas and we feel it is our basic duty as humans to see that our events benefit the community and do no harm to our neighbors. 

To those affected by this situation we are deeply sorry. We will make every effort to see that this is made right.

Thank you.