The (un)Australian’s Guide On What Not To Say To Someone With Cancer

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An estimated 126,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and as Australia’s border patrol experiments more with the potential of Hulk-ification, that number is only set to increase. Yet despite the large number of cancer sufferers, the social faux-pas and shameful questions I overhear while eavesdropping in hospitals have become a national embarrassment. To help combat this, the (un)Australian has consulted a panel of experts on the common questions and statements cancer sufferers hear and why they should be avoided in conversation. There may never be a cure for cancer, but the (un)Australian has the cure for rudeness.

“Get well soon, bald-ilocks!”

“While wishing someone to ‘get well soon’ is coming from a good place, receiving treatment for cancer is only the first step in the long, painful journey to recovery. It’s not like having the flu, recovery can take years. Also, ‘baldilocks’ is a slur and shouldn’t even be used on your friends who are bald unrelated to cancer.” – Assoc. Prof. Michael Kegley, Associate Professor of Medicine at Monash University and bald man.

“I’m not going to ask you about your prognosis, but will you be coming to our 2020 high school reunion? Soft yes?”

“Not asking someone about their prognosis is a good step. Most cancer patients often struggle to verbalise ‘6 months to a year’, even to their co-workers or acquaintances. However, this questioner really drops the ball by asking the non sequitur about the high school reunion. No one wants to see a bunch of losers from high school discussing their ugly babies and passionless affairs.” – Dr Christine Ti, Director of Oncology Clinics Brisbane and former high school geek.

“I will dance on your grave.”

“A person should never say this to someone battling cancer. This is the kind of thing you say to someone you hate, not a person suffering from an illness.” – Dr DeMorge James, Executive Director of the Haematology Society of Sydney.

“What did they do with your breast after the mastectomy?”

“This is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard. You absolutely should never, ever say this to someone with breast cancer.” – Dr Rose Mustafa, chair of the Australian Breast Cancer Council.

“You shouldn’t be undertaking chemotherapy. I read you can cure cancer just from eating a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables.”

“This misinformation needs to stop! Real lives are at risk! While a healthy diet is always helpful, you can’t cure cancer just by eating organic fruits and vegetables. You can only cure cancer naturally by eating organic almonds.” – Kate Onley, almond farmer.


Matthew Farthing is the Health Reporter for the (un)Australian. He has published a study on short term memory loss and has also published a study on short term memory loss.

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Categories: Opinion, Science

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