Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: How to react to news that a friend has cancer

 

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On reacting to the news of someone’s cancer diagnosis:

When a friend tells you they have cancer, I know you are thinking, “OHMYGOD! HOW DO I MAKE SURE I DON’T GET IT?” It is normal to wonder what caused it and how you can prevent it.

But when you ask, “Do they know what caused it?,” it sounds like, “What did you do wrong?” Instead, ask how it was discovered. That will provide you with useful information if you are worried about yourself, and doesn’t feel so blame-y. And if you or your kid has cancer and someone asks what caused it, the answer is, “bad luck.”

Anonymous

On reacting to the news of someone’s cancer diagnosis:

When a friend tells you they have cancer, I know you are thinking, “OHMYGOD! HOW DO I MAKE SURE I DON'T GET IT?” It is normal to wonder what caused it and how you can prevent it.

But when you ask, “Do they know what caused it?,” it sounds like, “What did you do wrong?” Instead, ask how it was discovered. That will provide you with useful information if you are worried about yourself, and doesn’t feel so blame-y. And if you or your kid has cancer and someone asks what caused it, the answer is, “bad luck.”

Anonymous

On judging others who struggle with something you manage easily:

We are all carrying plates. The ideal would be something like this: We have just the right amount of plates we can handle, with just the right things on each plate, they’re all in balance, and we get to put them down often enough, plus we are valued and appreciated for what we are doing, by ourselves and others.

Some people have this rare experience, at least for a moment.

Most people have at least one plate overflowing, though, one that’s full of crap, or too many plates all out of balance, or other people think they’re not carrying enough plates or doing it right. Enjoy balance while it lasts, and give everyone else a break.

Tight Tiara

I had an easy child and didn’t understand how others struggled. Then I had Destructo-Boy and realized I had been lucky, that’s all. It had nothing to do with my personality, my style, my organization. It was pure luck.

My brother said it best when he told me he took back all the mean things he thought about my parenting of Destructo-Boy when he had his own little devil. He had been full of smug inner comments about what Big Sis needed to do. Then he learned the hard way. (I thought it was pretty cool of him to tell me this.) You can’t know a situation until you see it from the inside. Be glad when it’s smooth for you and enjoy your life.

Anonymous

On getting both parents involved when there’s a new baby at home:

My husband was able to work out an arrangement to take his paternity leave by getting to work late and leaving early for about a month, instead of taking off one or two weeks completely. This meant he was able to provide continuity at his job during the entire period, but could let me sleep in and relieve me around 4 in the afternoon. This was great help to me at a time when I was still very tired and trying to establish nursing, and it made him feel necessary. He also was able to attach to our girls without being exhausted after a full day of work. It worked well both times. I appreciated his employers’ ability to give him that flexibility.

Grateful Mom

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

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