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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: 9th March, 2022
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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71 comments on “"Stop Telling Me To Be Brave" Campaign To Support People With Cancer”

  1. Korea Hanbury says:

    I had bowl cancer 7years ago.i woke up in August 2011 (just after my 44 th birthday) with a bad belly. Just thought it was that time of month. An amberlance took me to the Gwent. I had a scan and thay found a blockage but wasn't sure wot it was. So thay operated and it was bowl cancer. Thay removed 2foot of my bowels and my nifglanes.ive got a big scare going done passed my belly button. But 8days later I went home. And so far all my ct scales Ave been clear thank good..

  2. Michelle Roberts says:

    I’ve had cancer twice still got it .No one had actually said this to me .I keep getting ,you do look well .Why has it changed my face ?Also they say to me ,be positive.Your whole way of life has just coming tumbling down .Youve gone through chemo and radiotherapy coming out the other end a very different person and they want you to be positive.Im in a position now I’m stable but still living with memories of treatment and standing on a cliff waiting for it to start again .My family are fabulous but there is no one else to talk to or advice me .They are saying be brave because they don’t know how to talk to you or what to say .So I can understand that too

  3. For me, I'm not sure I was brave - you have no choice and have to face whatever you need to do.

    1. I totally agree with you. And to acknowledge is just as important... Go to be open ❤

  4. How You Can Help
    • *We encourage you to submit your stories (500 words or more) to us (contact [@] 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.
    • *Create awareness of the campaign but sharing the stories and using the hashtag

  5. 2 choices...sit in the corner and wait to die OR
    Get up and fight
    I chose the 2 nd option after being told i had 8 months to 2 years to live
    That was over 4 years ago!
    My saying is.” Im not dying from cancer,Im living with it”
    I dont consider myself brave,just determined,tenacious and trying my hardest to stay alive to watch my 2 vety young grandsons grow up
    They are my reason

    1. What a inspiration you are we kept telling mum the same thing but sadly it wasn't to be x

  6. I found it very hard to fight but with my family surport a care thay was my Rock a Lord l believe ther help me through illness as time go on a anoth year feel l be blessed over gain for 2018 Godbless you all ❤❤ xx