Guest Post by: Cara Tompot
Social Media Addict, LGBTQ+ Advocate, Feminist, Cancer Activist
This post originally appeared on Huffington Post Lifestyle blog. We are pleased to republish it here with the author’s permission.
I was only six weeks old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, my life has been an endless cycle of “I’m so sorry to hear that” and “I know someone with cancer, too.”
When I was growing up, people would constantly ask me how she was doing. It was always awkward.
Of course, most people still didn’t know what to say, what to ask or how to do it. “How is she?” was still code for “Is she still alive?”
It was worse when someone asked me in person. Between avoiding eye contact and a longer-than-necessary pause after the question, the whole conversation felt forced. (READ: How to Help When Your Loved One is Facing Cancer)
Written communication — whether it was a text message or an email — is almost always better than an actual face-to-face conversation. It allows the receiver time to figure out what to respond or whether to respond at all.
Sometimes, no response was the best thing I could offer someone, and that’s okay. Don’t always expect your loved one to get back to you right away. You can even message that: “No response needed.”
I do that with my mom all the time. Yes, she’s still alive. In fact, she’s going on 23 years as a breast cancer survivor, but she’s not in the clear. Every week, she undergoes chemotherapy; every six months, scans are taken. Time hasn’t necessarily made it easier, but technology certainly has.
Putting Texting Into Practice
I no longer live at home; I live in another state. Call it long-distance caregiving or simply being a caring daughter, but texting (and FaceTime) has made it much easier to be present and supportive throughout my mom’s cancer journey.
When the average American already sends and receives an estimated 85 text messages a day, why not use texting as a support mechanism?
If you’re comfortable sending someone you love who has been diagnosed with cancer a text message to show support, where do you begin?
Because crafting the right text message or email may be harder for some people, I’ve included a list of 12 text messages you can use.
But I offer you a warning: People are not one size fits all and neither are these messages. You know your loved one best, so don’t be afraid to personalize them to fit your needs.
Sample text messages
- I don’t know what to say, but please know I’m always here for you.
- I’m sorry you are battling this disease. It must be scary.
- I hate that you are going through this. I am always here to listen if you want to talk.
- I’m headed to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you and your family?
- Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you today.
- You have always been there for me when I needed help; I am going to be here for you just like you’ve always supported me.
- I made dinner for your family. When can I drop it off? Note: It tastes great even if it has been frozen.
- I found an online support group for cancer patients and their loved ones. Would you like to attend the next session with me?
- I just found this great new Earl Grey tea. Can I stop by to share a cup with you?
- Would you like some gossip?
- I’m only a phone call away.
- I love you.
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it is hard to know what to say. That’s okay.
The worst you can do is to say nothing. If you are open and honest with the person you love, a simple text message or short email may remind them that they are in your thoughts.
Looking for help finding the right words to say? Our Support Volunteers are here to help – from diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship. Connect with one today.