Shay Moraga is a triple negative breast cancer survivor and shares her journey with Desert Health® readers in an ongoing column…


Those are the dreaded words you never want to hear from a family member or friend. The person telling you those words is more than likely completely overwhelmed and in shock. They may even be in denial about all of it and ask that the word cancer not even be spoken. So what do you do? What do you say? How do you help your loved one and support them in the way that will not overwhelm them even more?

Speaking from experience, I am going to be pretty darn blunt…DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT tell them the story about your sister, mother, cousin, best friend who died recently because the chemo killed them. Please be smart and support their journey. Your opinion just doesn’t matter. I know. Pretty blunt, but full of truth.

Today, there are many options to recovery, but this is up to them to decide and come to terms with. Please be mindful and let them do this on their own.

I know this seems harsh but the person telling you they have cancer is already so scared of the unknown that telling them stories like this does not make it better. You see, when we as cancer patients hear the words cancer we are already writing our obituary and burying ourselves. We are freaked out of our minds to hear stories about death, so this does not help us. It only helps your trying to connect with the person, but it has a negative effect on that individual who has just been diagnosed with this scary, unknown disease.

This is by no means saying that the person you once knew was not important and fought hard to live, but it just isn’t the time to tell this story. Instead of trying to connect this way try saying things like…‘I am so sorry you are having to go through this, how can I help support you and your family? I will pray for you. Can I give you a hug? I know you are going to need help in the months to come, can I organize a shuttle service for you? Can I help organize a meal train for you in the weeks to come? I love you, friend. I am here for you. If you need to talk, I will listen. We will fight by your side every step of the way!’ Send calls, texts, emails telling them you are thinking of them.

Listening to them is key; they want to talk their fear out. If they want your opinion, they’ll ask for it. Listening makes them feel better and this is all about them. Setting up a special lunch with friends once a week, or a walk or yoga/meditation class are also great ideas. Try this so your loved one always has something to look forward to.

These suggestions are as positive as it can be, and keeping a positive mindset is key. As a yoga teacher, I know the mind-body connection is powerful and most of us can’t even begin to understand what our minds can do to help us heal. This type of quality time and connection will make all the difference and you will be glad you offered positive support.

Shay Moraga is an E-RYT500 yoga instructor and can be reached at [email protected], or find her on Facebook or Instagram @Namaste with Shay. Her mission is to Inspire, Empower, Educate.

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