This post first appeared on Lucinda Porter’s blog at Every Day Health, Navigating Hepatitis C; permission to reprint granted
10 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Hepatitis C
By Lucinda Porter, RN
Published Mar 14, 2014
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~Epictetus
If you live with hepatitis C, chances are that
someone has said something to you that showed ignorance or
insensitivity. Perhaps you know someone with hepatitis C and you are not
quite sure what to say. Here is a list of ten things not to say to someone who has hepatitis C:
1. How did you get that? How someone acquired hepatitis C is
personal. Some people have a history of using injection drugs, and
even if they just tried it once, they may feel ashamed. If they want
you to know how they got hepatitis C, they will tell you.
2. You look great. We all like to
look good, but when someone says this to us when we don’t feel well,
we feel discounted. If you know the person really well, you could say,
“I know that looks are only skin-deep, but you look great despite
having hepatitis C. How do you feel?”
3. Your problem is you just don’t get enough exercise. Or, if you just ate a better diet… These sorts of comments don’t help, and may hinder. Keep your advice to yourself.
4. You still have hepatitis C? I thought you got rid of that. Hepatitis C is not like a cold. It is a chronic infection, and although some people have been cured, not everyone has undergone treatment for it. Sadly, some people have been treated, but did not have good results.
5. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. If
someone says this to me when I am having a hard time handling my
current circumstances, I feel weak. Personally, I can’t imagine that
God is calculating how much I can handle.
6. You should try this supplement I am taking—it cures everything. Unless you are a doctor, it’s best not to give medical advice. Everything goes through the liver, and no supplement has been proven to cure hepatitis C.
7. You think you have it bad…so and so died from hepatitis C. Remarks like this are more frightening than comforting.
8. Everything happens for a reason. This may or may not be true, but even if it is true, it isn’t soothing.
9. Your problem is that you feel sorry for yourself. Try positive thinking for a change. I
am an optimist, but telling someone else to put a positive spin on
something shows lack of compassion. Rather than telling someone how to
feel, try being positive in your own life. This may be contagious to
those around you.
10. I’ve heard that hepatitis C is no big deal. Quit your worrying. In the U.S., more people die from hepatitis C
every year than from HIV. Hepatitis C increases risk of dying from
other diseases, and patients die younger because of it. Hepatitis C is a
What can you say? Try to be positive. And remember,
it’s more about listening than talking. Try, “I don’t want to pry, but
if you ever want to talk about it, I’m here to listen.”
Labels: giving support, words of comfort