It's Ok to say or do the "wrong" thing

1. It's okay to say or do the "wrong" thing.

There are things we as cancer patients don't want to hear, but we aren't sure we know what they are yet. There are things we don't want you do, but we aren't sure what those are yet too. Remember, this is new to us too, even if our cancer was in remission and comes back. We don't know what is "wrong" yet, so go ahead, say or do it; we'll learn together.

One time a dear friend came up to me and was saying the wrong thing and I knew it. I didn't want to stop her because she really didn't know what to say to me. She stopped midway and said, "I'm sorry, Doreen. What I'm saying is a bunch of garbage. Please forgive me. I just don't know what to say." How refreshing for her to admit that. I just smiled and we hugged. I knew what she was saying.

As the person receiving this information, I need to remember that "well meaning" people sometimes just don't know what to say. They usually "step in it" with their words when in reality what they want to say is, "Doreen, I care about you and am thinking about you. I truly wish for the best and since I really don't know what to say, I will say something that might be "wrong". In fact I'm scared for you but want to show support and love." I have to hear the underlying message of fear and yet support and love.

Let's come to an understanding. Please continue to talk to me, but try really hard to remember the things that are on the list and I will remember to listen to the feelings behind the "wrong" message.