I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.


I hung up the phone, not quite knowing what to think.

“Hi, Sarah,” my brother had begun.

“Hey, what’s up?” I responded.  Usually he calls to talk with one of my kids.  He’s the fun uncle, who does lots of fun things with them.  Never having had any children of his own, mine are his surrogates, and I count that a blessing.

“Umm…” he said, his voice sort of trailing off as he looked for words.  “I may not be able to do all the things I had planned for the summer.”

“What’s going on?” I asked, feeling the knot start to tie in my stomach.

“I have cancer,” he said.  “Squamous cell carcinoma in my tonsil.”

“How do they treat that?” I asked, but my mind was already racing in a hundred directions.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Radiation, and I don’t know what else.  I haven’t met with the oncologists yet.  They just called with the results.”

We talked a few more minutes, but I felt like I had nothing to offer.  

What do you say to someone who has just gotten a cancer diagnosis?


6 comments on “Cancer

  1. Poppy
    June 13, 2013

    I am sorry. The worst thing is that there aren’t any words you can say. When my Mum was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, I followed her to the doctor. After hearing the sentence, we came out of the hospital, walked down to the tube, not really talking. I was there to support her, and I should have been the one to keep strong. But at the tube station I suddenly started to sob, my Mum had to comfort me. She survived. Again. She is a fighter. My thoughts go out for your brother, wish him all the best.

  2. stephaniehurt
    June 13, 2013

    It’s a very hard conversation to have. Cancer has riddled my family several times and each time is just as hard as the first. One big element is to be comforting and pray with him. Give him some hope and lots of love. I’ll add him to my prayer list. Keep him positive because that helps with his peace of mind.

  3. catterel
    June 13, 2013

    I just clicked ‘Like’ but that isn’t really the best term. I feel for you, Sarah – hoping and praying that this is caught in time, that it can be removed and completely eliminated without any significant problem and that you will find the words.

  4. Judy Guion
    June 13, 2013

    In any case like this, all we can do is ask the Lord to give us the right words when ever they are needed… and pray unceasingly. I will be praying for you, Sarah, your brother and the rest of the family, especially your children.

  5. Anna
    June 13, 2013

    My Mom could maybe answer that one for you. (I think you’d like her.) Our family has seen both my parents, a few grandparents, 2 aunts and an uncle get the diagnoses. Seeing as my momma is not here at the moment, but me, this is what I have observed:

    You don’t always have to say something. Just be there.
    Yes, pray. Continually. It makes a difference!!
    Take it one day at a time. Or, just an hour, if that’s all one can take at the moment.

    Grief is crazy. And do cry. It’s okay to cry..for everyone to cry. It hits at unexpected moments too. And that’s okay. But also remember that everyone grieves differently.

    That’s all I’ve got in the moment. Must go face the day – one more sleep till I start my journey ‘home’. Know that I’ve been thinking and praying for you (the posts stopped, that means life happened somehow….) and will keep on doing so!

  6. Alyssa
    June 17, 2013

    I’m so sorry your family has to bear this. Praying for you all.

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