8 ways to show your support for someone with cancer

Man caring for an older loved one

When a friend, loved one or someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer, you may find it difficult to talk to that person. The eight tips below may help you show your support when talking with people who have cancer.

1. Maintain a sense of normalcy.

When someone close to you shares that he or she has cancer, your relationship will likely change. However, it is important to keep your relationship as normal as possible. During this time, your relationship may require greater patience and compassion, but mutual respect and consideration should still exist.

2. Take cues.

After hearing the news, take cues from the person with cancer as to his or her comfort level in discussing the illness. Some people are very private and prefer not to discuss their cancer. Others may be very open about it. Be respectful and conscious of the person’s privacy level.

3. Let them know you care.

One of the easiest ways to support someone close to you who has been diagnosed with cancer is to simply let them know you care. There is no better time to communicate what that person means to you and that you are willing to help.

4. Respect their decisions.

Even if you disagree, decisions about how cancer will be treated are at the sole discretion of the patient.

5. Be inclusive.

Life will likely change in a dramatic way for a person diagnosed with cancer. However, it is crucial to maintain some sense of normalcy, especially in relationships. Be sure to include this person in usual plans and social gatherings. Let him or her decide whether to participate.

6. Listen.

We all can use a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen from time to time. For someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, a caring listener can be what that person needs most.

7. Expect the good and the bad.

With a cancer diagnosis come good days and bad days, both emotionally and physically. Expect the good and the bad and remain compassionate.

8. Offer to help.

Battling cancer is challenging. Support the person by offering concrete help like cooking dinner, running errands or providing transportation to a doctor’s appointment.

For more guidance on supporting friends, loved ones and those close to you who have been diagnosed with cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

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Your support of cancer care and pioneering research at Ohio State can make a difference in lives of today’s patients while supporting our work to improve treatment and reduce cases tomorrow.

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