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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

"Stop Telling Me To Be Brave" Campaign To Support People With Cancer

Written by Cancer Care Parcel on 
16th January, 2020
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cancer Care Parcel looks to further support people with Cancer by launching the "STOP TELLING ME TO BE BRAVE" campaign.


To answer your questions about this campaign:-

Why Launch This Campaign? Won't you upset people?

Whilst researching for our two books (What to say to someone with cancer and How to treat someone newly diagnosed with cancer) we found an overwhelming number of people with cancer disliked being told to be brave.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE BOOK PROGRESS HAS BEEN HALTED. Most of our data was collected via social media polls and our accounts were hacked and we have lost a lot of information

A small sample of the comments are below:-

Susan Smith The words..fight it. The word CANCER it's scary you have no choice. Trying to be brave and not upset or angry and keeping up appearances when your in pain feeling low and on your own.. 

Lesley Jackson don't say u are so brave... I was frightened but what choice do u have but to get on with the treatment , just listen 

Suzanne Wright I've had 3 diagnoses of cancer. It's really not helpful when people say "you're so brave". It's not like you have a choice to go through all the sh**!

Christine Davies I know people mean well but when they tell me that they admire my bravery, I want to shout out that I am not brave. I had no choice in accepting the cancer diagnosis, the operation, the chemo, the drugs etc

Lorraine Moriarty I got fed up of people saying "You must be so frightened."  I can honestly say I never felt frightened - apprehensive sometimes, wondering how chemo would be and suchlike - but I made up my mind that this was an illness I was going to recover from.  I do realise that this approach isn't for everyone, especially those with more advanced cancer, but it worked for me

Kerry Barker  A few people have said 'you are soooo brave' to me. If I am totally honest it made me cringe. I wish i could accept it as a compliment, but i can't. I am just doing what i have to. To save my life. Save the bravery for those who deserve it much more than me..

Emma Gibson ...not being brave as someone else said.. we have no choice.... don't want to be ignored but don't want pity.... 

Anita Brown "Stay positive" "you're so brave" and "you're an inspiration" are the phrases that annoy me coz I'm not brave or inspirational im just trying to live my life and stay positive needs to be taken out the dictionary as it's so bloody annoying, I am staying positive but it's still bloody terminal! 

Denise Faulkner I have been diagnosed with cancer 3 times people say you are brave my reply is no I'm not brave but my children are for walking by my side and holding my hand

Caroline Dick I have stage 4 bowel cancer and I hated when people say how brave or strong i am. Im not but ive got a 2 year old I've not got time to be ill

Donna Antrobus I am sick of being told I'm brave, and look so well, and your so positive, I put a fake smile on, I really want to tell people to F off, and sick I being everyone's agony aunt, I'm the one with cancer, wish people would wake up, or just say nothing, you can quote me, I try my best to always be positive but I have down days, and miner problems that people winge to me about I can not be bothered with anymore, sorry for the rant 

Fiona Southern I really dislike being told to 'stay positive ' sometimes we have to be real, we hit low times, deal with pain on a daily basis, lack sleep but put the mask on so we don't make other people feel uncomfortable. We all have to face our 'new normal' and don't want to be grateful for having survived with, in my case, life changing surgery and complications.

What Will The Campaign Do?

The Campaign will highlight what is good and what is bad about the language that we use when talking to people with cancer.

How You Can Help

We encourage you to submit your stories to us about what has been said to you or someone you know.

Positive and the less than positive experiences are welcome so that we can start to GET IT RIGHT when talking to people with cancer.

Further Reading

How To Help Someone With Cancer: What You Need To Know

Personal Cancer Stories / Cancer Blogs

How to Help A Breast Cancer Patient

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