Manner Monday®: The Cancer Conversation – advice to those with a friend touched by cancer.

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by Carey Sue Vega in Etiquette, Manner Monday, Manners

Thanks for joining us for Part Two of our “Cancer Conversation” series. Click here to catch Part One, ‘What to Say’.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month; I’ve asked Janet McLain, Co-founder and Guide of Cancierge to share some helpful tips with us about getting The Cancer Conversation started. During the series, Janet is going to share tips on ‘what to say’, ‘advice to those with a loved one or friend touched by cancer’, and ‘actions that help a cancer patient on their journey’.  To learn more about Janet and Dr. Laura Miles, please visit

Here’s Janet with her advice to those with a loved one or friend touched by cancer…

Please, do not ignore them.  Cancer can feel very isolating. The survivor truly wants to feel normal. They want their friends to just be themselves without walking on eggshells, pitying them, fretting, or over-friending. Bottom line…be genuine!

Think before you speak. There are so many ways to ask questions and make statements. Those surviving cancer need your support in maintaining a positive outlook. Educate yourself on your friend’s cancer so you don’t have to ask tedious questions. All comments need to be of a supportive loving POSITIVE nature. Sidebar….we should think before we speak everyday with everyone. Words cannot be taken back and can be very painful.

Try saying something such as:

  • I admire your courage and strength to fight this disease.
  • You are on a very challenging road right now, and you are doing a great job.
  • My prayers and encouragement are with you.
  • You are an inspiration to many others and me.

And most important of all, take the time to just listen. Many times a patient needs to talk.  They need to voice their fear, frustration, and pain to be able to move on to the next phase of recovery with a positive outlook. They don’t need answers; they need to express themselves.

No one would want to believe that their actions or words could cause the cancer patients and immediate caretakers to lose focus on supporting the patient and instead start consoling you. “I was not prepared to see Judy look so thin.” “This is not just about Judy.” “I can’t believe Judy is going to lose those curls.” As a woman who has undergone intense treatment, I received many thoughtless remarks that made me wonder, “Is this really about me?”

I read an article about three months ago written by clinical psychologist, Susan Silk, and author, Barry Goldman, given to me by one of my Cancierge warriors. The basic theory is comfort IN, dump OUT. Brilliant! Draw a circle and place the name of the person having the trauma in the center. Draw another circle around the first one and place the name of the person closest to the trauma such as the husband. Repeat the process as many times as you need until you get to the less intimate friends.

The rules are simple. If you are in the center, you can dump OUT as many things as need to be dumped. Whine, complain, and moan; you get the point. If you are in the second ring, you can dump OUT to the outer circles, but can only comfort IN to the center circle. The rules stay the same as you get to the larger circles. Dump OUT, comfort IN.

When faced with a situation where you are not sure how to react, place yourself in a circle. When it is someone in a smaller circle than yours, give comfort and support, listen, and keep the focus on the person who has earned it.

Next week, we will share actions that can help a cancer patient during their recovery.

Thanks Janet! I love the advice of ‘just listen’ and the circle is genius!  Such great advice.  I think when we’re struggling with seeing our loved one or friend struggle, we are paralyzed with what to say; and by listening, we’re saying we care in the biggest and best way possible.

Do you know someone who would benefit from this post?  If so, please share it with them and encourage them to sign up to receive Manner Monday?  I would appreciate it!  And if you’re new to Manner Monday, I’d love for you to take a minute to learn more about why I started it. You can click here to read my very first post that tells all about it.

Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered in a post?  Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

Click to Tweet: At a loss for words about what to say to your friend with Cancer? “Just be there and listen.” #MannerMonday

As always;  Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue




Do you know of a high schooler who would benefit from improved social skills, confidence (the right kind of confidence) and better manners?  We have a few options for them:

The Interview Intensive begins later in October and is for students who are in 10-12th grades.  We work on Business Etiquette skills, building resumes, and preparing students for the stressful interview process that is fast approaching.  Whether it be for a scholarship, college, or a job; we help to prepare the students so that when they’re placed in a high-stakes interview, they will have real life experience to draw from, feeling more confident during the process.  Link for more info:

As an adult, if you would like to help us during the mock interviews, please let me know, we would love to have you serve as a roll model for these students.  Your services would be needed on Thursday, November 19, from 6:30-8:30pm.  You will get to meet some amazing young people that will give you encouragement for our future!

Passport Program: 
I am still working on the schedule for the Passport Program.  As soon as I get the theater outing secured, that will allow me to plan the rest of the schedule.  In the meantime, if you know your teen will be participating, early registration is available with a $50 savings off tuition:

Word of Mouth is the best compliment you can give us.  Do you know of some who may be interested in our programs, please share our information with them.  Here is the best link to share with them, it covers everything in a nutshell:

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