7 Things To Never Say To Someone With Breast Cancer

When you first receive that paralyzing breast cancer diagnosis, you are vulnerable, scared, and you literally and figuratively are brought to your knees.  As the news soaks in and you begin to share, it’s just a matter of time before the advice starts rolling in.  People make well-meaning comments that often come from a place of sadness, discomfort, and fear. There isn’t anyone who means to offend, frighten, or irritate; but some advice will be great, and a lot of it you simply need to ignore.

The best place to vent and get support and information, is from someone who has been through it and ‘get’s it’.breast cancer mastectomy

Here are 7 things you should Never say to someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer

  •  How are you feeling?

What I think: How the f*#k do you think I’m feeling… I’ve just been hit with the Big-C diagnosis, and while I’d love to debate the latest nail fashion, exercise fad or skinny jeans, I now have to figure out how to stay alive!

  • God doesn’t give you more than you can handle… you got this.

What I think:  I know you mean well, but come to think of it, now you bring up God, I’m wondering if He somehow did this to me!  I’m sitting here with tumors in my body and might die… it’s a lot to f-ing handle so please don’t discount my primal fear with a cliche.

  • Don’t stress, stay positive, and really take care of yourself.

What I think: I’m sorry… did you not hear me… I’ve got f-ing cancer!  This is causing me and my family insane levels of stress! This is not helpful at all to me and I know you mean well, but I’m having a really difficult time staying positive when all I can think about is my hair falling out, my boys growing up without a mom, and how I need to have my breasts cut off.

  • I know someone with the bad kind of cancer… they died unfortunately, but I’m sure you’ll kick cancer’s ass!

What I think: Yes!  And I’m freaking the f*#k out thinking that I’m going to die too! There is no GOOD kind of cancer! There’s no soldier fighting a war who wants to hear about the number of casualties that happened in the next town.  I get that you’re trying to make me feel better and make a connection, but this honestly is freaking me out. I promise you, your friend who died of cancer didn’t die because she/he decided that she/he didn’t want to ‘kick cancer’s ass’.  Just like there’s no guarantee I won’t die because ‘I’m a fighter’.   It’s not helpful!

  • Well, at least you’ll get new boobs!

What I think: I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I’ve been desperate for a boob job my whole life.  Have I shared with you my plastic surgery dreams (for the record if I were to get plastic surgery I’d get my knee fat sucked out!!!)  My double mastectomy is nothing like your fun little perky boob job.  The expanders are violently painful, I have two plastic bags sitting on my chest that I can’t feel, and they occasionally make farting sounds if I move my arms the wrong way in yoga class. My skin is so thin that it ripples over my implants if I bend over…not to mention I sometimes burn my chest in the shower since I can’t feel how hot the water is. F*#k the new boobs!

  •  Should you be having that wine/chocolate/tequila/insert your vice here??

What I think:  Probably not… I know studies show some things link to certain cancers… but guess what… I’ve already got f-ing cancer!  I’m stressed, these things make me happy, and I’m having a really crap week.  I know I shouldn’t be imbibing, but I don’t need you to call me on it… sit and drink tequila with me without judging, and help me feel ‘normal’ for a few minutes. Please.

  • You’re all good now right?

What I think:  Every cancer survivor lives with a recurrence risk, and that number varies from person to person.  So, I’m all good unless those rogue f-ing cancer cels decide to take a tour of my body again.  And if they do, it isn’t because I did or didn’t do something, it’s because those are the cards I’ve been dealt.breast cancer double mastectomy

Here are 7 things you SHOULD say to Someone Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

  1.  I’m so sorry.
  2. I hate that you are going through this. Can I bring you over a green juice?
  3. I’m organizing a meal chain so at least you don’t have to worry about feeding your family.  Can you send me a list of friends who’d like to help or who should I ask for this?
  4. I’d love to clean your house, what is a good time?
  5. I love you and I’m sorry this is happening to you .
  6. Can I take you out to lunch/coffee/dinner… heck tequila… for a change of scenery to chat? We can chat about what you are going through or we can dissect the latest celeb gossip. I’ll follow your lead, but I’d love to get you out.
  7. I cannot even imagine what you must be going through (unless you’ve been there of course)

As we approach October, and the world seems to be filled with pretty, happy, pink bows. Please understand.  For many of us it brings back some really painful memories such as:  stress, pain, PET scans, biopsies, fear, MRIs, X-rays, anger, radiation, chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, IVs, blood tests, worry, physical therapy, confusion, sadness, loneliness, reactions to medication, endless check-ups, anxiety, bone scans, depression, insomnia, and CT scans.  In fact, my oncologist warned me that October would be the hardest month of the year. It is for all of her patients.

But the truth is, everyone is different and every cancer is different, and you can’t really say the wrong thing if you speak from the heart with love.  Thank you for caring about me. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


About The Author


I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.


  1. Kent Kokko | 3rd Oct 18

    Thank you. Your post is also relevant to me – a 61 yo man having HPV+ squamous cell carcinoma. We live ct scan to ct scan, never knowing when if it the cancer will return. Plus we live with the damage of surgery, radiation and chemo.
    Please keep writing.

    • Samantha | 3rd Oct 18

      Thank you for this feedback, it’s very true. Sending all of the healthy thoughts and clear CT scans your way!

  2. | 16th Feb 19

    Nailed it!

    • Samantha | 18th Feb 19

      Thank you!

  3. Abbie Pumarejo | 24th Sep 19

    Samatha, I just stumbled on your blog as I am obsessed about finding articles on fighting weight gain while on tamoxifen after turning 50.I love your direct and funny style of writing. I also appreciate that I am not crazy and it isn’t all in my head. I have had BC now twice and been on tamoxifen, lupron and arimidex for a total of 12 years. Back on tamoxifen now for another 3 years. My entire physiology has changed and sometimes I just feel like a hamster in a wheel going against this drug that is keeping me alive and any more recurrences at bay. Thank you for talking about it all honestly and with heart.

    • Samantha | 25th Sep 19

      Abbie! Thank you for your sweet words… i really do wish there was more support and information for those who are given this drug to take. I relate to the hamster on a wheel thingy… the weight gain is depressing, and my joint pain is almost laughable as I hobble around in the mornings…. I feel you and am going through the exact same things and it’s NOT IN YOUR HEAD! XXXXX .

  4. Alexandra | 15th Oct 21

    When one of my friend got her diagnosis I asked her do you want a punching bag or a glass of wine.
    She told me much later that it was the perfect thing to do !

    • Samantha | 15th Oct 21

      ahhh i think both of those are perfect options… and depending on the day would depend on which order of preference she’d like them! Sending love to your friend! XX

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