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working with survivor today who gets frustrated when other's say "i know how you feel...my grandmother, parent, friend, had. so-n-so cancer, or I has this other kind of cancer"--and give her advice based on that. She thinks that diminishes her individual experience and doesn't want people to say they "understand", she just wants the friendship and support.

Any thoughts on this?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think it's a word thing again and that people say they understand when they don't know what else to say.

If they are lucky enough to have never had cancer, they can't possibly understand and they must know that, but they don't know what to say to someone when they tell you that they have cancer.

One of my very best friends has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and I don't understand how he is feeling despite being a survivor myself. Our situations are so different from each other.

Probably their hearts are in the right place, and instead of saying things like, "Let me do this or that for you," or "I will bring dinner over," or "If you need someone to talk to I'm there", they say they understand.

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I agree. No one ever knows how or what another person is feeling - even if they've had a similar situation - but I think most people are just trying to be helpful and compassionate. I know someone who always comes back at people with "no, you don't know how I feel" - and really it just makes them feel bad when they didn't mean anything by it -- and maybe they do know more than you think. Everyone's different, but I think a person's intention is more important than the actual word or words used.

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