People with a bad medical diagnosis don't need to hear somethings from others. If you haven't been through the same thing as them, you have no idea what they are coping with. This is one of my pet peeves. If you haven't had cancer, you don't get it.
Now someone else agrees with me. While Dr. Senelick is speaking of people with disabilities, most of what he says he is applicable for anyone who is coping with a bad medical diagnosis.The doctor gave his opinion on these issues and people with disabilities. I can give you my opinion (because I always have one) on them as well:
Greetings - Yes say hello but don't start with 'so how was your latest oncologist/doctor appointment/nasty test?' There is a lot more to me and my life than medical crap and I don't want to discuss it unendingly. I live it enough and I'll tell you if I am ready to talk about it.
You are so courageous - I am not courageous. I am coping. Courage has nothing to do with this. Sheer will power and guts gets me through this crap. I am not brave. I am not a survivor. I am not fighting a war or battling cancer. I am a person living with cancer.
It could have been worse - What? What would be worse than 'you have cancer'? Well actually the only thing worse is if they say 'you have cancer again'. I've been through that one too. Tell me what's worse than you have a disease that we can treat through some very nasty procedures and protocols but we really don't have a cure.
I know how you feel - so when was your cancer diagnosis that you can compare this to? If you have had cancer and hadn't told me before that's fine. Now we can compare cancer stories. But if you haven't had cancer you have no idea.
Finally, if you don't know what to say acknowledge my health issues and treat me as you normally would. I don't want/need special treatment and well intention but misdelivered kindness. If you really don't know what to say, keep your mouth shut.