What You Shouldn’t Say to a Cancer Caregiver

What You Shouldn’t Say to a Cancer Caregiver


Anusuya Mukherjee

5 days ago at 12:41 AM

One of the most important things to understand when talking to a cancer caregiver is that they are under a lot of stress and mental turmoil.

People sometimes don't understand what you might be going through as a cancer caregiver and that’s okay. I understand that sometimes people just want to help you even though what they are telling you might not be the best advice in the world. I know for me personally, I sometimes wish people would ask me before they start comparing their situation to mine or have a list of things I can try for my father. The most important point you must understand when you are talking to a cancer caregiver is that they are in a lot of stress and mental turmoil. Just because they are a cancer caregiver doesn't mean they are ok. They are fighting a battle of their own and have to do it silently. They have to deal with having to take care of a patient as well as cope with the fact that that patient might have been their whole life. Here is a list of statements you should avoid when talking to a cancer caregiver:

  • “Were there no symptoms…” This statement strikes a nerve when I hear it. I imagine if there were definite symptoms people would go to their primary caregiver immediately. When I hear this statement, I feel like I am being questioned or my mother is being questioned for our dedication as a caregiver or caregiving skills in general.
  • “Maybe you’re not going to the right doctor…” Just don’t, if a patient and caregiver have faith in their oncologist, please let them be, there is a pretty good reason why they are consulting the doctor in the first place so maybe not go there.
  • “Are you sure this medicine is right for them?” As a caregiver, we have a lot to already take care of and we have put our trust in a person that we might be second guessing sometimes, please don't put doubts in our heads regarding things you may not have an idea about.
  • “But when my… was diagnosed they told us….” Every cancer and every diagnosis is different, just because a certain line of treatment worked for the cancer patient you were taking care of doesn't mean that it will work for everyone.

Always remember that as a cancer caregiver you are doing the best that you can and that you can't control everything that is happening, but you can provide as much comfort as possible to the cancer patient. Never doubt the process and have faith in your oncologist and the medical team that is with them. They know what they are doing, and you know what is right for the patient that you are taking care of. Thank you to everyone that has been reading my articles on this website, it means a lot to read your comments. I wanted to dedicate this article to my father (Mr. Jaladhi Mukherjee) who passed away after a long and brutal battle with stage 4 prostate cancer in August. He is the reason I started writing these articles.


Last activity by Mary Foti

Mary Foti

I took care of my mom when she was dying of breast cancer and I experienced those same comments, Anusuya. I'm so sorry you went through such a difficult end for your father, but he was lucky to have someone like you to be there for him!

Paul Nelson

Thanks for this, many people don't know is caregivers often have to take over the duties of the person with cancer, and still meet the needs of other family members.

Esther Hall

Many times, care givers are the lifeline of the person with cancer.

David Sadigursky

Got to hand it down to the care givers who selflessly dedicate hours of their time to take care of their patients

Paul Nelson

This article is so on point. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Kay Baliwas

I'm just thankful to all the caregivers out there putting all of their efforts to help cancer patients!


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