2 Things You Should Never Say to Someone With Cancer

I spend a huge portion of my life avoiding confrontation and trying to keep people happy. It takes vast amounts of emotional fortitude for me to talk about things that might end up offending someone. So please read this with the grace intended. I am writing this because I have been given this situation, so we might as well learn something for us.

This is about talking to people with cancer. Just two things:

heather and her son
Heather and her son.

1. Mentioning recurrences while someone is being treated for cancer is really tough.

It is the fear of all cancer patients. What if it comes back? None of us are promised that we are really OK. This will be with us for the rest of our lives.

We do much thinking about the lone cancer cell that snuck out and is waiting to wreak havoc in our liver, bones, lungs or brain. This thought is forefront in our minds. It is the reality of this disease. It comes back and when it does, it often means the end.

I might be asking the impossible: to check in on us and love us, but under my rules. I want you to ask how I’m doing, how the kids are, how my treatment is progressing. I love being open and sharing and hoping to educate all of us in the process.

But when you tell me about you friend who was just like me and doing great and it just came back in her lungs… I will smile, show true empathy, ask how she is doing and then there is a good chance that I will leave you and go throw up. It hits me that hard, and I would think that I’m not alone in this as a member of the cancer population.

2. Please do not ever, ever, ever mention in conversation with my babies and me someone who has died from cancer.

This happens on a weekly basis. I am so sorry, truly heartbreakingly sorry that you had to lose someone you love from this awful disease. I am. I want to hug you and ask you about them and help you in your pain. But when you say this in front of my kids, I will change the subject and maybe even sound like I’m belittling your loss.

My job right now is to protect my boys and put their hearts at rest. I am wise enough to decipher the difference between your grandmother’s cancer battle and mine. I will be fine and I hate that your story was different. My children cannot differentiate.

heather and her son taking a selfie

They hear cancer, they hear someone died and they are robbed of their peace and become afraid again that their mom will die. Please ask after us, but keep it light in front of the kids. More importantly, please ask THEM how they are doing. It would bless me so much if someone would direct a question to them, look in their eyes and see their heart and ask if they are doing OK. They have bravely carried the hardest part of this.

Thank you for listening. xo

A longer version of this post originally appeared on the “More to Learn” Facebook page.

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself in regards to a cancer diagnosis. What would you say or wish someone had told you? Find out how to email us a story submission here.


How This Fan Brought 'The Rock' to Tears

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the professional wrestler and actor, recently let his fans glimpse his softer side.

Johnson was driving when he noticed some people running after his car and waving their arms, according to a post on his Facebook page. When he stopped, a fan named Nick Miller hugged him and told him he had found the strength to fight cancer thanks to Johnson.

Miller told the actor he had inspired him to fight through his various treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.

He was a little teary-eyed and said for months and months all he has wanted to do was find me and say this face to face,” Johnson wrote on his Facebook page.

The two took a photo together, flexing their muscles and grinning.

Cool story to share on Easter… After my workout I'm driving in my pick up and notice these kids in the rearview mirror...

Posted by Dwayne The Rock Johnson on Sunday, April 5, 2015


The experience moved Johnson deeply, who wrote that he too began tearing up as he drove off and reflected on the encounter.

As I’m driving I start shaking my head (and tearing up) at how fragile life is and how amazing and cool the universe was to make this meeting between myself and this special kid, Nick Miller, come true,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson ended the post by urging everyone to take a moment to count their blessings. Since it was posted on Monday, April 6th, the post has received over 2 million likes and nearly 100,000 shares.

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Cancer, We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together

Dear Cancer,

It’s probably best if I just come right out and say this. We both know it’s been coming for some time.

Things just aren’t working out between us.

Our relationship was dysfunctional from the beginning. No one approved of our union. Friends, family and even complete strangers knew it wasn’t right for us to be together. But I had no choice. Fate united us.

As you well know, things between us progressed far too quickly. Before I knew it, my entire world revolved around you. You took away my innocence. You took away people I loved. You forced me to watch helplessly as you dragged others into your caustic lifestyle.

You tried to suck the life right out of me.

Early on, I knew I wanted you out of my life. It took everything I had to do it. But I’m stronger now. Stronger than you could ever be.

And whatever we had, well, it’s over now.

I’m breaking up with you, Cancer. And in the immortal words of a certain pop diva, we are never, ever, ever getting back together. Like, ever.

So stay away from me. Stay away from my family and friends. I will forgive what you’ve done to me, but I will never forget.

And just so we are perfectly clear — it’s not me, it’s you.



Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 5.10.42 PM
Cheers to health!

This post originally appeared on “My Life, Distilled.”

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5 Things You Should Know When a Loved One Gets Cancer

In many ways, my cancer has been harder on the people around me than for myself. I experienced the shock and awe of a stage 4 terminal diagnosis but had to get up and get busy living what’s left of my life. I have stuff to do and significantly less time to get it all done. Everybody else has to pretend to be strong with me since I set up a no-grieving zone around me. I’m not dead yet.

Cancer seems to be everywhere. There’s zero chance you won’t have it around you somewhere; I just hope it isn’t too close. It’s horrible and has a wide impact zone of collateral damage to everybody around ground zero.

Not all cancer endurers react the same way to getting a serious diagnosis, but there are some aspects of this journey that are pretty consistent among people living with any type of it. I hope this list helps you navigate through it with your person.

1. Not all cancers are the same. Its states are varied, and a diagnosis is specific; you almost need a Dummy’s Guide for your person’s cancer to understand what they’re facing. Many cancers are entirely curable now, and others are a death sentence. Try to understand what your loved one has. But above all, know that every person experiences the disease differently. Their doctor may have given them a timeline – remind them it’s almost never correct. Every human is different.

2. Stay the hell off the Internet. Believe me, your person has seen all of it and hyperventilated at every new statistic. The numbers are usually overall outcomes, and they’re not the story your person heard from their doctor. Ask them about that and only that. What Dr. Google has to say doesn’t matter.

3. There will be times your person is not present. They talk and smile or grocery shop or whatever, but for periods of time, they’re swimming in their disease in their minds. They’re tamping down panic and rage and sadness to be able to talk to you. They’re probably better off if you don’t notice. Just be present for them; it gets better again. They also likely don’t care about your holiday plans for next year or other forward thinking happiness. They measure their time and happiness in today; be in that time with them. Share your memories of your relationship together.

4. Who they were before they got sick is who they will be when they have cancer, just strung a little more tightly. If they were an emotional hysteric before, then you will get more of the same during their cancer journey. Pragmatists and tough-minded people will not appreciate your visits with a “Chicken Soup for the Tumor-Ridden Soul” book in hand. If they were the loving sort, they will still be that way but maybe need more of that from you than before. Good gifts for your person would be something from your relationship that’s meaningful, or bland food (nothing that smells too strong) and of course, just your time.

5. Let them forgo the rules of good manners. Start every text, email or phone message with, “You don’t have to respond to this.” In fact, don’t phone; send a note saying, “When you’re up for it, I would love to talk.” They will come to you when they’re strong if they know you’re waiting for their cue. Depending on where they’re at in their treatment, they may be doing just great. But if they just found out and you aren’t immediate family, stand by in the wings. If you are close family, show up and do the dishes.

We cancer patients vary greatly, but you should know that you’re more important to us now than you ever were. We’re terrified almost all of the time. When you choose to take this terrible journey with us, you’re in a sense holding our heart in your hands. Even though we may not show it, we need you to be gentle with it.

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Taylor Swift Just Fulfilled a Dying 4-Year-Old Fan's Wish

Somehow, Taylor Swift keeps out-doing herself — with acts of kindness.

When the mega pop star heard a 4-year-old fan named Jalene Salinas has terminal brain cancer, she FaceTimed the little girl for a 20-minute chat, Kens5.com reported. The news outlet helped start the Twitter hashtag #ShakeItOffJalene, which caught the singer-songwriter’s attention Monday night, leading to the wonderful moment below.

I’m so sorry you’re having a bad night,” Swift said, according to Kens5. “I’m so happy to talk to you though, and I’m so happy you like ‘Shake It Off.’”

You can watch the recorded moment here.

Bravo, Ms. Swift! You have a heart of gold.

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We Just Found a Really Good Reason to Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast

Take a break from your morning routine and eat ice cream for breakfast. You’ll be satiating your sweet tooth — and raising awareness for childhood cancer.


The Peterson family lost their daughter, Malia, to kidney cancer four years ago. The family has started a super sweet campaign to raise awareness about pediatric cancer and make sure other families don’t feel alone when facing their diagnoses.

“We had gone to Disney World on a Make-A-Wish trip three weeks before Malia passed away and we had ice cream for breakfast at a resort there,” Annette Peterson, Malia’s mom, told CBS. “It was such an awesome, fun experience for us. And Malia especially was like, ‘Why don’t we always do this? This is awesome.’”

To participate, eat ice cream for breakfast and post a photo to your social media channels with the hashtag #KidsGetCancerToo or #IceCreamforBreakfast. And if you need any more convincing, Kevin Bacon has already jumped on board.



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