Bob Riter

Value Your Own Story

Posted November 29th, 2016

I recently spoke with a group in Binghamton, NY about coping with and communicating about cancer. One attendee suggested that I add the importance of valuing our individual cancer stories. What a terrific idea. Each person who’s been through cancer (either as a patient or a caretaker) has a unique story. For many of us, […]


Bob Riter

How Faith Communities Serve Those With Cancer

Posted November 14th, 2016

I recently had the good fortune of attending a couple of church services in rural communities near Ithaca in order to speak about the work of the Cancer Resource Center. It reminded me that churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith communities are often the primary sources of support for people going through cancer. And, as […]


Bob Riter

Chemo Nurses and Radiation Therapists

Posted October 31st, 2016

Chemotherapy nurses and radiation therapists provide much of the hands-on care to cancer patients. As a result, these professionals have a profound impact on the quality of care that patients receive. I attend a weekly breakfast club for guys who have had cancer. I asked them to describe the qualities in a chemo nurse or […]


Bob Riter

Stopping Treatment Is Not Giving Up

Posted October 13th, 2016

I sometimes hear from individuals with advanced cancer who continue with aggressive treatment because their loved ones exhort them to “not give up.” Some family members go so far as to say that stopping treatment is the same as committing suicide. It’s not. I wish that we could reframe this discussion because when people choose […]


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 […]