I was only six weeks old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, my life has been an endless cycle of “I’m so sorry to hear that” and “I know someone with cancer, too.”
When I was growing up, people would constantly ask me how she was doing. It was always awkward. I know they meant to be supportive, but it never felt like a comfortable conversation.
Of course, most people didn’t know what to say, what to ask or how to do it. “How is she?” was code for “Is she still alive?”
It was worse when someone asked me in person. Between avoiding eye contact and a longer-than-necessary pause after the question, the whole conversation felt forced.
Written communication — whether it was a text message or an email — is almost always better than an actual face-to-face conversation. It allows the receiver time to figure out what to respond or whether to respond at all.
Sometimes, no response was the best thing I could offer someone, and that’s okay. Don’t always expect your loved one to get back to you right away. You can even message that: “No response needed.”
I do that with my mom all the time. Yes, she’s still alive. In fact, she’s going on 24 years as a breast cancer survivor, but she’s not in the clear. Every week, she undergoes chemotherapy; every six months, scans are taken. Time hasn’t necessarily made it easier, but technology certainly has.
I no longer live at home; I live in another state. Call it long-distance caregiving or simply being a caring daughter, but texting (and FaceTime) has made it much easier to be present and supportive throughout my mom’s cancer journey.
When the average American already sends and receives an estimated 85 text messages a day, why not use texting as a support mechanism?
If you’re comfortable sending someone you love who has been diagnosed with cancer a text message to show support, where do you begin?
Because crafting the right text message or email may be harder for some people, I’ve included a list of 12 text messages you can use.
But I offer you a warning: People are not one size fits all and neither are these messages. You know your loved one best, so don’t be afraid to personalize them to fit your needs.
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it is hard to know what to say. That’s okay.
The worst you can do is to say nothing. If you are open and honest with the person you love, a simple text message or short email may remind them that they are in your thoughts.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com