Bob Riter

Helping Those We Don’t Like

Posted September 15th, 2016

In my columns, I often suggest practical ways to help people with cancer. Giving support to nice people is relatively easy. You want to bring them soup and give them a hug. But contrary to what you see in the movies, not everyone with cancer is angelic. Some of us are cranky. Others are downright […]


Bob Riter

The Opposite of Positive Thinking is Not Negative

Posted August 5th, 2016

I often write that friends shouldn’t tell cancer patients to “be positive.” It gives the patient one more thing to worry about. “I guess bad things will happen if I’m not positive enough.” Besides, no one in recorded history has become positive because someone told them to be positive. But it’s important to understand that […]


Bob Riter

After Being Diagnosed, Life Can Change Overnight

Posted July 20th, 2016

If your spouse or partner is diagnosed with cancer, your life changes. You worry about the future and your days are filled with appointments, tasks, and caregiving. If your spouse or partner is diagnosed with advanced cancer, your life changes even more radically. As one man told me, “It all changed overnight.” His wife, by […]


Bob Riter

We Have Cranky Days

Posted July 8th, 2016

A woman going through cancer treatment was having a bad day. She was miserable and her friends were offering words of encouragement along the lines of, “You’ll feel better tomorrow.” She told me that the encouragement didn’t help. She said that it was like wearing cold, wet clothes. Hearing that she’ll soon have warm, dry […]


Bob Riter

Energetic Woman Did Not Let Cancer Define Her

Posted June 24th, 2016

Carol died last week. She had cancer, but she never let cancer define her. She was always participating in triathlons, climbing mountains or moving boulders in someone’s garden. I marveled at her energy and her ability to get so much life out of each day. Her level of activity was beyond what’s typical for most […]


Bob Riter

The Power of a Cancer Support Group

Posted May 26th, 2016

People with cancer share differently within a cancer support group as compared to how they share with their family and friends. One woman recently told me that when she shares her cancer diagnosis with friends, the friends often say something like, “You’re going to be ok, right?” She went on to say, “In my support […]


Bob Riter

Waiting for a Call From the Oncologist

Posted May 11th, 2016

Waiting is one of the most intense feelings because the good news is really good and the bad news is often life-changing. You know that you’re supposed to silence your cell phone when you’re in a meeting. Exceptions are permitted if it’s truly important, and few calls are more important than calls from your oncologist. […]


Bob Riter

Spouses Should Support, Not Direct, Cancer Care

Posted April 28th, 2016

I frequently hear cancer patients say that a spouse or partner is adding stress to their lives by constantly expressing their own opinions as to what is best for the patient. Here are some examples: “You have to go to New York City for all of your cancer treatments. You can’t get good care anywhere […]


Bob Riter

Living with a Rare Cancer

Posted March 31st, 2016

The most common cancers in adults are prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal. Combined, these cancers account for nearly half of all cancer diagnoses. Other relatively common cancers include melanoma, kidney, leukemia and bladder. If you were diagnosed with breast cancer this past year, you might be comforted (and/or disturbed) to learn that some 235,000 other […]


Bob Riter

Cancer and Hair Loss

Posted February 11th, 2016

Becoming temporarily bald is a common side effect of cancer treatment. For many, it is a difficult and all-too-visible symbol of illness and loss. Do you know why people often lose their hair while on chemotherapy? It is because chemo attacks rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells rapidly divide – that’s the nature of cancer. But […]