Inside Out 256: Responding to Cancer

09.19.12 | Martha Manikas-Foster


An estimated 1,638,910 new cases will be diagnosed by the end of 2012. Add to that the number of people already fighting (12 million Americans, according to the latest American Cancer Society figures) and it’s pretty clear that if you’re not in the battle, you know--and love--someone who is.

And let’s just say it out loud: those of us living alongside a friend with cancer regularly feel inadequate. 

We’re good at studying up on medical terminology. We do alright at purchasing head scarves and baking casseroles. It’s when we try to find the right words—that’s when we stumble. We want to listen well and extend grace, but somehow we don’t say the right things when we should, and when we do say something, it’s often the wrong thing. 

Is there one right way to talk with our friends in the middle of the fight?

Of course not. But there are things we can keep in mind. Things like grace, flexibility and even ingenuity.

I have the best job in the world: I get to talk to people about things that matter. And I always think the Inside Out podcasts (click the “Listen” button above) are worth the ten to thirty minutes it takes to listen. I feel especially strongly about the importance of today’s Inside Out conversation for those fighting cancer and the people who love them. Our guest is Deanna Thompson, a spouse and mother of two who’s an author and a professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Three years ago she received a stage IV cancer diagnosis and a not very encouraging prognosis for the future.

Deanna talks with us about talking about cancer and shares some practical ideas about how to offer meaningful help to our friends in the fight. We talk about grace and we talk about her perspective on life, too, as well as just what it has cost her to gain that perspective.

If you like what you hear, click here to read her July 25 her.meneutics blog post titled “When Breast Cancer Leaves You Grasping for Words:”

To learn about Deanna’s book about her life and her cancer:  Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace.

 You can follow her personal blog by clicking here:


Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 09.19.12 Martha commented

click here for a direct link to Deanna's Grace Blog:




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