NWR: SIL has cancer, don't know what to say to her

posted 2 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
851 posts
Busy bee

I wouldn’t tell her that you’re sad about it, because I’m sure she’s sad enough on her own. My advice would be to call her and tell her that you love her and that you’re there for her if she needs anything or wants to talk to someone. Right now encouragement and support are the most important things you can give her. And flowers probably wouldn’t hurt either 🙂

Post # 3
3623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

CanadianBride456:  Honestly, I would show up with two or three frozen casseroles and a card that says that I am sure in a time like this, it is more important to spend time with the ones you love than cooking and cleaning the kitchen. 

For me it isn;t what you say, it is how you show it. I know when I went through a fairly serious cancer scare, what I appreciated the most was a friend who took me to happy hour, laid a $50 bill on the table, and told me we were going to drink and eat and gossip until we ran out of cash. When my sister had a cancer scare, she loved that I picked her up, took her to our house for the weekend, and never mentioned her test until she did.

I would also reach out to your brother/bil. I know it is so much harder on the loved ones than we often think it is. They need your love and support. I really admire my coworker who has had 5 friends pass from cancer in the past two years. She always makes sure to call the spouse at least every month to check in and see how she can help.

Post # 4
381 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: Royal Park Hotel

It’s always wise to stay away from saying things like:

“Everything will be ok”

“Everything happens for a reason”

“You can fight this, I know you can.”

It’s best to just listen.  If she gets upset or really sad just tell her something like “This is so unfair, you must feel so angry.”

Post # 5
4760 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

CanadianBride456:  So sorry.  It is terrible thing to deal with and I understand your feelings.

I want to let her know how terrible I feel about her situation,

No. I forget where I read this but I once read not to say this to people.  No one who has recieved terrible news wants to know how you feel about it.  Telling her you feel horrible will A: make her feel worse, B: more importantly this isn’t anbout you.  It’s not.  It’s not about how you feel.  It’s about how she feels.  I’m sure she knows you feel horrible you don’t need to go rub it in more.

and that I truly do love her like I sister.<br /><br />

Yes.  Tell her you love her and tell her that you want to be there for her.  Bring her food, clean, drive her to appointments like PP said.

Post # 6
42157 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

CanadianBride456:  Given that you said you live states apart, showing up with some frozen casseroles isn’t likely a possibility. I would phone her and tell her that you are so upset that she has to fight the fight again. Rather than send flowers, I would send a gift card for her favorite restaurant,  a take out place, or even the coffee shop at the facility where she will be getting chemo (if that is what will be happening). A nice cup of hot tea to sip can be very comforting.

Sometimes when a person is faced with a diagnosis, there is a conspiracy of silence amongst friends and family that makes it impossible for anyone to be honest or share their feelings, including the one with the diagnosis.

Although she may have said she doesn’t like to think about it because it makes her sad, I think it’s also important for her to know that she is loved and she is able to talk when she wants to.

Post # 7
191 posts
Blushing bee

I would text her and ask her what she would want to do to feel normal. Have a girls day, your feelings will be know without being said and you can support her by helping her maintain normalcy. 



Post # 8
74 posts
Worker bee

My sister had cancer…. It was cut out and successfully removed, so we didn’t go through the whole chemo journey with her. We were lucky!

To be honest, depending on the severity and what she is about to go through.. the fight you guys had may be the last thing on her mind. I don’t know the situation here, and how bad it is.

Usually people find comfort in you asking ‘What can I do to help?’ 

Does she have kids she will need help caring for? Dinners that need made? Someone there for her if her husband has to go back to work? Flowers and things are nice but real practical help is often what’s most remembered. From her point of view, even if she doesn’t need it – But just knowing people are willing to drop everything and be there if you need (whatever you need) is the best form of help.


I hope that helps xx


Post # 9
2248 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012 - Southern California

I would avoid telling her how awful it’s making you feel because I guarantee you that feeling is ten fold in her shoes!  I would definitely send her flowers & a message that you’re thinking about her & that you’re always here to talk [despite any differences in the past or whatever she needs].

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