When you’ve found out someone you love has cancer, you may have a lot of questions and you may not know what to say. It’s good to be encouraging, but it’s also important that you don’t give your loved one false optimism.

When you tell your loved one to always stay positive, it can seem like you’re discounting their fears, feelings, and concerns. That said, here are a few things you can do for your loved one during this time and a few things not to do.

What can I do when my loved one has cancer?

First and foremost, it’s critical that you take your cues from the person who has cancer. While some people may be willing to talk about their illness, others may be more private. It’s important that you respect their needs and their privacy.

Here are a few things you can do to help your loved one as they battle cancer:

  • Respect their decisions about cancer treatment.
  • Let them know you care about them.
  • Include them in regular activities.
  • Listen to them, but don’t feel that you need to respond. A listening ear may be the only thing your loved one needs.
  • Check to see if it’s alright to do something for your loved one before doing it.
  • Expect good days and bad days.
  • Provide help in concrete ways such as sitting with them through treatment, giving flowers, and showing up when they need you.


What shouldn’t I do when my loved one has cancer?

Cancer can make us look at our own fears about illness. This can make you reluctant to interact with those battling cancer. But it’s important to reach out to your loved one to show them that you care.

Here are a few things not to do when visiting and talking to your loved one while they’re facing cancer:

  • Give advice when they didn’t ask for it.
  • Assume your loved one isn’t capable of performing regular activities.
  • Take things too personally.
  • Be afraid to talk about your loved one’s cancer.
  • Be afraid to touch or be around your loved one.
  • Always talk about cancer or cancer treatments.

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