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My friend has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Don't know what to say to her.

(13 Posts)
gingerbear Fri 19-Aug-05 21:39:33

She is a neighbour I have known for a long time, and a lovely person. Her husband is distraught and keeps saying things like ' I don't know how I will cope when you are gone' My DH has spoken with them both - she seems cheerful enough on the outside, and is due for an operation in the next few days.
What on earth do I say to her? I know very little about bowel cancer other than it is the third most common one in the UK and can be hereditary.

Socci Fri 19-Aug-05 21:42:43

Message withdrawn

Charlee Fri 19-Aug-05 21:43:53

i dont think there is alot you can say except to let her know you will be there for her if she needs to talk or anything. i think not saying anythng is sometimes better than trying to think of somethingon the spot.

jamiesam Fri 19-Aug-05 21:45:11

And can be very treatable if caught early enough. My dad and step-mum both had it, nearly ten years ago now, and have been entirely clear since operation.
Not much help I know, until you know whether it's been caught early enough. I guess you just have to take her lead and be positive. Wonder sometimes if people are still afraid of the big C, (you know, it used to be a taboo, afraid it was contagious etc), so if you can say that you are there if she needs to talk, but otherwise be bright and assume that she IS going to be ok?

gingerbear Fri 19-Aug-05 21:45:28

It was discovered early. Will she need chemotherapy/radiotherapy as well as the operation?. I think she may need a colostomy?

happymerryberries Fri 19-Aug-05 21:46:15

Even if you don't know what to say, then at least say just that, 'Im so sorry and I don't know what to say'. the worst thing is when people avoid you/the issue.

happymerryberries Fri 19-Aug-05 21:47:00

Oh and colostomies don't have to be permanent, many can be reversed after a little while, it depends on which part of the bowel was removed

jamiesam Fri 19-Aug-05 21:47:09

Great.
Neither dad nor my step-mum needed anything other than the op.

gingerbear Fri 19-Aug-05 21:48:45

I think I will say that hmb when I see her next, not sure if to mention it can be a good outlook if caught early.

Hattie05 Fri 19-Aug-05 21:51:01

They probably won't know about chemo or any other treatments until after the op. Then the will know more about the cancer and where it is and what the best treatment is iykwim.

The best thing you can do is be supportive, talk openly about it (don't try and tiptoe around the subject) and let the family know you are willing to help with anything e.g shopping or whatever you can offer. Let them talk talk talk if they want to, its the best way to help them come to terms with what is happening.

happymerryberries Fri 19-Aug-05 21:51:46

Someone I knew once said it to me when dh went off to the first Gulf war. It stuck in my mind as such a kind thing to have said. I have used it myself several time in similar circumstances since.

gingerbear Fri 19-Aug-05 21:51:48

Good news about your dad and stepmum jamiesam.

I think her DH will need as much support as she will - he seems very scared of the C word. I hope he doesn't upset her with his doom and gloom talk.

jamiesam Fri 19-Aug-05 22:15:17

Friend who died from liver cancer (well, secondaries really) outlived his prognosis, and I'm sure his positive thinking helped - he fought it every step of the way and certainly didn't have to deal with any doom-mongers. Sorry, bit mean on your friend's dh, but I think you're right about needing to support him and perhaps gently steer him towards a more positive outlook. In truth, if your friend was going to die next week, he'd want to make her days as happy as possible, I'd think...

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