Cancer? Don’t run away. 5 Ways to Support Your Guests.

The majority of your coded players are in the age group where they experience the onset of serious diseases; cancer, stroke, heart attacks etc. And if is not your guest, it may be their spouse, or parent.

Why am I talking about this in an article on PD?

Because, as a player development professional, you are focused on building loyalty in your players.

This means that you have to take a strategic approach when your coded players are facing a serous life-challenge. Don’t just make a note that they are dealing with their husband’s cancer and decide that you won’t be seeing them much for a while. Come up with a plan of how you are going to stay in contact in an empathetic way, and let them know that you are ‘there for them’.

The elements of your plan include:
1. Make phone calls
2. Buy a card
3. Approach them if they do come on property.
4. Call if you missed them on property
5. Perhaps some fruit? or flowers?

1. Make Phone Calls! You need to still make phone calls. Many people ignore patients and caregivers because they don’t know what to say. But that only makes them feel worse and very isolated.

Decide how often you are going to call and stick with your plan. Don’t run away because you are afraid of what to say or because you are afraid to intrude. I was talking to a Host in the mid-west yesterday about the need to still call occasionally but not with an attempt to sell them on a trip.

So what is appropriate? You can still use the same 7 reasons to call that we talked about before. Call to say Happy Birthday, call when their team wins, and call when something changes on property that makes you think of them. “Hey Julia, I thought you yesterday when the Bears won. I hope that brought a smile to your face at a difficult time. I am just calling to let you know that I was thinking about you.”

What to say?

  • “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this.”
  • “I’ll keep you in my thoughts.”

What not to say?

  • Let’s get you into the casino so you can forget about it for a while.
  • What exactly is wrong?
  • Who is the doctor and what are the next steps?
  • My friend/mother/neighbor had that disease…
  • I am sure everything will be fine
  • How can I help?

2. Buy a card. Reach into your own pocket for a card and a stamp. Spend a few minutes picking out something with appropriate words; or just a plain card with a beautiful picture of nature. Don’t just sign your name! Include one of the phrases from above such as “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”

3. Approach them if they do come on property. If you do see them on property, or any one of their friends or family, then be sure to approach them. Say Hi, look them in the eye and say “I am so glad to see you here. I want you to know that I do think about your/your wife etc. I hope you can relax with us for a while.” Use your body language and facial expression to show that you care. Again, don’t avoid the topic, but don’t ask what is happening next, and don’t share your own stories. People don’t want to hear about someone else’s condition.

4. Call if you missed them on property. If you see them on a list of yesterdays players, or another Host mentions that they saw them, then grab your phone and place a call. I don’t care that you just talked to them the other day, still make that call. “Hi Julia! I see you were here yesterday. It was my day off so I am sorry that I missed you. I hope you had a good time?” And close with the by now familiar line of “I will be thinking about you.”

5. Hold off on the fruit and flowers.  It might make sense to reach into your pocket and send fruit? (Don’t send sugary cookies to a cancer patient) But be careful that this does not come over as a ‘Get Well Soon’ message because that is inappropriate in a serious situation. And flowers? It probably makes more sense to wait and see if this situation ends with death because flowers are more appropriate then. Again, if there is a bereavement for anyone close to your player, then send them a sympathy card. “I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. I just want you to know that I am thinking about you.”

“Life Happens”… And it happens to your coded players. Step up and acknowledge them as best you can. But don’t cross over from Empathy to Sympathy (which we also talked about before) because it is not your job to get wrapped up in their life. This is why you should not say ‘How Can I Help?” because you really cannot help them in their personal lives. So don’t set yourself up for a request that you cannot meet. Your job is to acknowledge their reality and stay in touch.

I hope this helps you with some tough situations. Drop me a note at with any other ideas that we can all share.
Jackie P.

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