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Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of 72 women; 14,000 will die. Please know the symptoms and risk factors: read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Books at www.amazon.com. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writer's International Society of Authors, and Patient Leadership Council for Tesaro, Inc. I WILL NOT USE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN CONTACTING YOU DIRECTLY. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2018.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


     Face it, hearing a friend has cancer is never easy.  However, the words we utter and comments we make can have a profound effect on your relationship and her healing.  Many of us have heard things like “maybe if you had breast-fed your kids you wouldn’t have gotten it” or “hey, they’re just boobs and heck, now you get a free boob job” or “everything happens for a reason”.  Even something like “what is your prognosis, or what are your odds?” can strike a cord—believe me, if she wanted you to know that she’ll soon be kicking the bucket, she’d share that news with you. Our loved ones mean well, but they often make these comments out of fear, awkwardness or often just for a lack of something to say. So what’s a friend to do?


  1. If you haven't had cancer or don't have a crystal ball, don't day things like "I know how you feel" or "you will be fine" or "don't worry, it will be okay." 
  2. Don't put on your "expert hat". Everyone does cancer in their own way, so please do not be an armchair quarterback or even comment on her chosen path for treatment. Offer your support, your love, but keep your advice to yourself.
  3. Don't tell her you know someone who had cancer and died.
  4. Don't say anything that begins with "at least"--as in at least you have the "good kind of cancer" or "at least it was caught early."
  5. Don't say "If there's anything I can do, just let me know." such a statement involves action on her part, not yours.
  6. Don't offer help if you don't intend to follow through.
  7. Don't tell her to have a positive attitude. While having the affirmation to beat cancer is a good thing, being required to be happy about it is not.
  8. Don't show up to visit with a brood of kids for her to feed, and don't expect her to entertain you.
  9. Don't avoid her because you can't deal with the situation.
  10. Don't expect her to reassure you that she will make it through.
  11. Do not expect a thank you note or even a response to an email...seriously, this is her time to heal, not your time to feed your ego or "feel good" hormones.


    1.     Offer to accompany her to the doctor.
    2.     Offer to field phone calls so she can get some rest.
    3.     Offer to pick her kids up at school and drop off dinner.
    4.     Send her notes, emails and texts to let you her know you are there for her
    5.     Invite her to go for a walk with you if she is up to it. Or you can offer just to sit and listen, really listen.
    6.     You can say, “I don’t know what to say” and give her a hug (see above—don’t avoid her— she needs you now).
    7.     Acknowledge that she is not just her cancer; she is a person with cancer who might like to talk about something other than her cancer.
    8.     Once treatment is over, acknowledge to her that there is no going back to the old normal. There’s nothing quite like a cancer diagnosis to challenge your inner core. We will hear, “but I thought you were done with treatment?” As if our lives are normal again post formal treatment. The truth is, nothing for her will ever be the same.
                            ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

     Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. 
      Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. 
     She hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for Beat Cancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. 
     Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

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