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Cancer has hit so many of us - family, friends - ourselves. 
  • What can you say? 
  • What can you do to help? 
  • Here is some information we found online.

Talking with someone who has cancer - thoughts from the American Cancer Society

You may struggle to find the right words to say to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Know that there is no right way to act or perfect words to say. Just listening to the person with cancer is often more helpful than anything you can say. Assuring them of your love and support is one of the most important things you can do. Most people with cancer do not want to face the experience alone and will need support from their family and friends. “I’m here for you” may be the best thing you can say to show your support for someone with cancer.

Keep in mind that not everyone with cancer wants to talk about their feelings. They may have other ways to express their emotions, and some people just prefer to keep their feelings private. People with cancer might just want you to help them maintain their normal routine as much as possible. Just be yourself and continue to do things with them as you would if they didn’t have cancer.

Sean, cancer survivor: “I did not like to talk about my cancer with my friends or my family. I just wanted to get it over with. My oncologist had one of his patients who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer a few years ago call me. He had the same treatment I did and was my age so we could easily relate. He told me it would be a tough 6 months but I would get through it. Knowing that he made it through the same treatment was helpful.”

You can get more information on this in Listen With Your Heart and When Someone You Know Has Cancer. You can read them online, or call us to have free copies sent to youRead more ...

Some helpful ideas

There are many ways to show your concern or offer support. The following are from the Cancer Council NSW (New South Wales, Australia):

  • Ask “How are you doing now?” - Try to ask how the person is feeling from time to time throughout their treatment and recovery. Make the time to really listen and respond to their answer.
  • Tell them if you’re willing to listen - Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs most. If the person wants to talk about what they are going through, give them time to speak, make eye contact and try not to interrupt.
  • Acknowledge life can be unfair - A person with cancer doesn’t want to feel blamed or punished. It may help to recognise that sometimes bad things can happen to good people.
  • Keep them involved - Continue inviting the person with cancer to the usual social events and let them have the option of declining or cancelling, even at the last minute. This helps them feel included and lets them make their own choices.
  • Show them you care - You might send a card, deliver flowers or say something in person. If you don’t know exactly how to express your feelings, it’s okay to just say so.
  • Maintain the status quo - If physical affection like hugging or hand holding was a normal part of your relationship before the cancer diagnosis, try to continue acting normally.
  • Follow their lead - Some people with cancer don’t like to be called a cancer sufferer, battler, victim or survivor. Pay attention to how they refer to themselves and follow suit.
  • Talk about other things too - Although it’s important to ask how they’re feeling, the person with cancer may not want to talk about cancer all the time. It’s okay to chat about other things happening in both of your lives.
  • Offer suggestions about how you can help - Sometimes it’s hard for someone with cancer to ask for practical help. Your specific offer might be gratefully received. E.g. “Can I bring dinner over on Saturday night?” or “Would you like me to mind the kids on treatment days?”. Practical ways to help include grocery shopping, helping with cleaning or laundry, doing some gardening,minding children or pets, making dinner and driving to treatment. Read more ...

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