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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When someone is seriously ill

Bruce Feiler, a widely read author and journalist and also a cancer survivor, recently wrote a piece in the New York Times that the Raleigh News & Observer picked up. It suggests what to say and what not to say to someone who is seriously ill.

Looking back at my experience with cancer, I agree in part and disagree in part with Feiler’s comments. Please read his article before continuing because he explains his thoughts.

His do-say’s: “Don't write me back”. I concur. “I should be going now.” I concur; I cannot describe how fatigued I was in the latter weeks of radiation treatment. “Would you like some gossip?” I disagree; I’d much rather hear a good joke. “I love you.” I disagree; I can see it someone’s eyes, or hear it in someone’s voice, or feel it in someone's touch, or infer it from someone’s actions.

His do-not-say’s: “What can I do to help?” I concur. “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” I disagree; I like to remembered that way. “Did you try that […] I recommended?” I concur. “Everything will be OK.” I concur. “How are we today?” I disagree, so long as it’s said in a funny manner. “You look great.” I concur. 

Other perspectives are welcome!