Some helpful ideas
There are many ways to show your concern or offer support to someone with cancer.
Let them know you’re willing to listen
Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs most. If they want to talk about what they are going through, make eye contact, give them time to speak and try not to interrupt.
Ask “Do you want to share what’s going on for you today?”
From time to time throughout their treatment and recovery, ask the person how they are feeling. If you wait for the perfect time to ask, it may never come. Make the effort to really listen and respond to their answer. Emotions can change from day to day and however they are feeling at that moment is okay.
Acknowledge life can be hard
A person with cancer doesn’t want to feel blamed or punished. Don’t focus on what may have led to the cancer, but on how hard it is that people get cancer. It may help to recognise that sometimes bad things can happen to good people.
Invite them places
Continue inviting them to social events. Give them the option of declining or cancelling, even at the last minute. This helps them feel included and gives them a choice.
Show them you care
You might send a card, text or Facebook message, drop off a meal, follow them on social media, or say something in person. If you’re upset and don’t know exactly how to express your feelings, it’s okay to just say so but don’t put the burden on the person with cancer to make you feel better. Sometimes it’s enough just to be there with them. Before visiting, check they feel well enough and can have visitors. Don’t visit if you’re unwell or have any cold or flu symptoms.
Treat them the same
If physical affection like hugging or hand holding was a normal part of your relationship before the cancer diagnosis, try to continue acting in the same way.
Follow their lead
Some people with cancer don’t like to be called a cancer sufferer, battler, victim or survivor. Others don’t like to talk about fighting cancer, as this may make them feel like they’re losing. 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, it’s okay to chat about other things happening in both of your lives.
Podcast: How to Help Someone with Cancer
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