NaturallyCurly editor and writer Devri Velazquez has been dealing with a rare autoimmune disease and chemotherapy treatments for the last three years. Previously, Devri has bravely shared her story with our community in her series for NaturallyCurly, "Devri's Hair and Health Journey." Speaking from experience, and from the heart, these are the four things she feels should never be said to chemo patients.Ignorance is bliss, right? Not so much. If you or someone you know is on chemotherapy because of cancer or other illness, it is important to be thoughtful about how we communicate with them during this sensitive time. And like our mothers always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Cancer or not, if someone is experiencing some kind of trauma to their body or mind, nobody likes to feel undermined and overlooked.
1. "I can relate." (and you are not sick)
Let's be honest. Now is not the time for you to tell your story, "I know someone with your illness, and they died." We are individuals with our own personal stories, so I'd recommend letting the person speak about themselves when it comes to their current situation. Bringing a distant friend of a relative of a friend just does not matter, right now, and will probably backfire and make the person feel even more alienated than they already probably do.
2. "It was probably caused by ___"
Say what? We didn't choose to bring this on ourselves. And we refuse to think so. Being sick is completely out of someone's control--cancers and rare diseases can happen to anyone at any time (trust me, I'm one of them). With that being said, I personally will never allow anyone to tell me this happened because of something I did to myself in a past lifetime.
3. "You look fine, though."
Cancer or not, if someone is experiencing any kind of trauma to their body or mind, nobody likes to feel undermined and overlooked. Just because we are holding it together on the outside, does not substitute the agonizing pain and exhaustion our bodies are feeling day in and day out.
4. "What is your prognosis?"
No, no, no! We are people with actual beating hearts and crying eyes. We are not a novel you just picked up off of a shelf to gawk at with curiosity. If anything, I will let you know what my diagnosis is, and if you are interested enough or not, you may research the illness yourself. This question is beyond tactless, and should never be presented to someone who is ill.
Have you or a loved one been affected by cancer or another illness? Blog about it today in Curls for a Cure.