What NOT to Say When a Parent Tells You Their Child has Cancer

Did you know today is World Cancer Day?

“This World Cancer Day, we recognize that our commitment to act will lead to powerful progress in reducing the global impact of cancer.”


This year’s theme is #IAmAndIWill

It focuses on the fact that, “When we choose to come together, we can achieve what we all wish for: a healthier, brighter world without cancer. Together, all of our actions matter.”

It asks the question, “who are you and what will you do?

What NOT to Say When a Parent Tells You Their Child has Cancer

Almost 2 months into the journey with Avery (and having lived through Lymphoma for almost 8 years with Avery’s maternal great-grandmother, my mom), we’ve learned a few things along the way about actions and words that matter during this walk.

Therefore, today, as we focus on how all of our actions matter, we wanted to share a few actions that have been hurtful during this particular walk, and why you should never say/do them to a family fighting cancer.

Having your child, your INFANT, diagnosed with cancer is incredibly devastating to experience.
Most people are genuinely caring, empathetic, and supportive when given the news.

Others? Not so much.

Here are a few things we believe are NOT what you should say when a parent tells you their child has cancer:

❌ “God loves your child more than you.”
I get it. We’re Christians too. We know our children have been “loaned” to us. But, especially when you have no children of your own, this simply does not feel healing in the moment.

❌“What did you eat, drink, take while pregnant? What did YOU do wrong that caused your baby to have cancer?
Ummm. No. Just no. For so many reasons. No. I can assure you the mom guilt is already pouring through her veins, no assistance needed. And the oncologists will tell you, this has nothing to do with any of that. Stop it. (FACT: Up to 10% of cancers are related to genetic mutation.)

❌“At least you have another (healthy) child.”
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but children are irreplaceable. They’re also not interchangeable. Having a healthy child does not, in any way, counter balance the fact that you have a child with cancer.

❌“Your baby has cancer because of unforgiveness in your family and the sins of your ancestors.”
Yes. Someone actually said this. Ironically, she’s part of our family. Are her ancestors not the same? Or, is she so great she has no sins? No unforgiveness? Not only that, but no one else knows the forgiveness you do or do not hold. Don’t do this. I can’t tell you how infuriating and hurtful this one was.

What NOT to Say When a Parent Tells You Their Child has Cancer

Now, things NOT to do:

❌Don’t send unproven, non-science based treatments that have no known research showing they “cure cancer.” Again. This is not the time.

❌Never undermine the authority of the parents who are doing what they’ve been told is the best for their child.

❌Don’t force the parents to take on new financial strains when you know they have mounting medical bills and prescription costs (Avery’s at-home meds currently total over $200/mo for this cycle).

That last one though? Yeah.

It looks like we need to keep sharing the GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-baby-avery-beat-leukemia

Yes, dad is still working full-time (from home, thankfully). Mom worked part-time while pregnant through the pandemic but is unable to work right now due to the current situation with Avery.

If you are able, please donate or simply share. Every little bit helps ease this unexpected new physical, emotional, and financial strain on mom and dad.

Thank you.