5 Things Not To Say To Someone with Bladder Cancer

It's tough to know the right things to say to anyone who is dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We want to make sure we are saying the right things that are going to have a positive impact and empower the cancer patient. I have a few of "what not to say to someone going through bladder cancer" that have become pet peeves of mine I will share with you.

1. You don't look sick

Well, really how I look has nothing to do with my cancer at all. I'm living with cancer and somedays I feel emotionally and physically fatigued, some days its a struggle just to get out of bed. Just because I don't look how Hollywood portrays a cancer patient does not mean I don't have cancer. To me saying "you don't look sick" just stifles the desire to talk about cancer.

2. You're too young to have bladder cancer

It's unfortunate that I was diagnosed with bladder cancer, but the reality is no, I'm not too young to have bladder cancer. Bladder cancer does not discriminate, yes, if you look at statistics on set it is typically 65 or older. We just don't hear about bladder cancer as much, and that needs to change. Younger people are being diagnosed with bladder cancer and if someone says to you "you're too young to have bladder cancer" this is also an excellent opportunity to educate them about bladder cancer.

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3. Did you smoke?

Yes, The number one cause of bladder cancer is smoking. So asking a bladder cancer patient if they smoked is blaming someone's lifestyle which does not help to be supportive. There are many other reasons why someone gets bladder cancer. It can occur due to environmental exposures, and genetics. Hinting a person was diagnosed with cancer because he/she did not take care of their self is wrong.

4. Stay positive or keep fighting!

I know people mean well and we have said these two phrases over and over for years to cancer patients. I have even said them myself, but the more and more I hear them, it bothered me more. Hearing "keep fighting" started making me feel like I wasn't doing enough to fight my cancer. To me, hearing "hang in there" followed by a smile meant more to me. I understand we are all unique and hearing "stay positive/keep fighting" will make each of us feel differently.

5. How are you?

It's the thoughtful question to ask, but think about it, when you're asking a bladder cancer patient "how are you?" You will get a simple response "I'm good, I'm fine, or I'm ok." Next time try asking "how have you been?" asking more open-ended questions using "how, why, and in what way" will allow the bladder cancer patient to reflect and reveal a little more about how they are and even open the conversation more to talk about cancer.

Finally, try and talk about something besides cancer. Dealing with cancer and talking about cancer day in and day out can be exhausting. Keep in mind bladder cancer patients live active and productive lives and have many others things we can discuss other than just cancer.

Editor’s Note: With heavy hearts, we regret to inform readers that on February 27, 2021, Curtis passed away from stage IV bladder cancer. Curtis’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to impact many. He will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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