How To Support Someone With Cancer

Cancer is so prevalent now that it affects one in two of us. That means half of us will have the disease in some form or another in our lifetime. With it being so common, it is essential to know how to support someone who has a diagnosis. Studies have shown that people do a lot better in times of crisis and illness when they have the support of their family and friends, but knowing what to say can be a little tricky. In this article, we look at a few things that you can do to help.


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A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, so the most important thing you can do for anyone who has been diagnosed is to listen. Try to listen to them without any judgment, and no ‘cheerleading.’ It can be tempting to remain positive and have an ‘it will all be fine’ outlook, but for some patients, that sadly won’t be the case. Just sitting and listening to a cancer patient share their feelings is one of the most significant contributions you can make to their wellbeing. In the later stages of a cancer journey, perhaps if they are in a hospice such as they may not be able to communicate with words, but your presence will be a great comfort.


Support their treatment decisions.



Sometimes, people with cancer have to make some incredibly difficult decisions about their treatment and the path they are going to take. You may not necessarily agree with their choices, but it is important to remember that it is their body that has to deal with it, and it is their choice.


Support their caregiver.


We often forget about their primary caregiver, but that person has a huge role to play in keeping someone with cancer in good spirits, taking them to medical appointments and maybe even providing some personal care. Supporting them is crucial because it can be an isolating and worrying time for them.


Be specific about the help that you can offer.


We are all guilty of vague offers of help such as ‘call me if you need anything,’ and that can be overwhelming. Be specific when it comes to your suggestions – such as walking the dog, cleaning the house, going grocery shopping or looking after any children.


Learn about the diagnosis.


Your friend or family member may not want to go into their diagnosis in too much detail, as it can be tiring repeating the same information over and over again to different people. If possible, get someone who knows – their spouse or their primary caregiver to give you the knowledge and write it down. If there is information that they don’t know or can’t or won’t share, don’t push for it.


Talk about things other than cancer.


Cancer can be all-consuming, but it is essential to talk about things unrelated to the disease, even if it is just current affairs or their hobbies or other interests. However, if you don’t know what to say, it’s okay to admit that to them – they will probably appreciate the honesty.


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