When someone you know has cancer

When someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer it can be an overwhelming experience. Even though you want to help, it can be hard to know what to say or do.

Here are some tips to help family and friends cope with a loved one’s cancer diagnosis

1.  Be accommodating


Be prepared for changes in your loved one’s behaviour and mood. Medications, discomforts, and stress can cause someone with cancer to become depressed or angry. Listen without always feeling that you have to respond. Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs the most.

2. Be helpful


Many sick people find it hard to ask for help as they are worried about seeming weak or vulnerable. However, they will most likely appreciate the offer including financial assistance to take care of escalating medical bills. You can also offer to help with specific tasks, such as taking care of children, washing their laundry, or preparing a meal. If the person declines an offer, do not take it personally.

3. Be thoughtful

Try not to let your friend’s condition get in the way of your friendship. As much as possible, treat him or her the same way you always have.  Do not offer advice they don’t ask for, or be judgmental.   It is also not advisable to always feel you have to talk about cancer.

In the workplace, you should not assume that your co-worker can no longer do their job. Include them in work schedules and activities. If they aren’t up to doing something, let them be the one to decide to say no.

4. Be discreet

If someone tells you that they have cancer, you should never tell anyone else unless they have given you permission. Let them be the one to tell others. If someone else asks you about it, politely decline to divulge any information.

5. Be realistic

While it’s good to be encouraging, it’s also important not to show false optimism or tell the person with cancer to always stay positive. Doing these things might seem to discount their very real fears, concerns, or sad feelings. It’s also tempting to say that you know how the person feels. But while you may know this is a trying time, no one can know exactly how any person with cancer feels.


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