How To Help Someone Who Has Cancer

Cancer is the scourge of our modern lives, and although many medical advances have been made to prevent and heal the disease, it is still a serious health threat with over a million Australians suffering from its debilitating and destructive effects every year. If one of those millions happens to be a loved one or a friend, it’s only natural that you will want to support them as much as possible, but are wondering what the best way to do that is.

supporting cancer patient

Even though you might feel unsure as to what to do for them, or say to them, being sensitive and open to talking about how they are feeling is what they probably need, just knowing that you are there for them is a big help! Another thing you can do is make sure they have access to cancer support services that can use their expertise to assist them on their journey toward healing.

Sometimes it’s hard for people with cancer to express how they are feeling due to the terribly serious nature of the disease. The following are emotions that cancer patients have described experiencing to give you an idea of what they are going through:

    • Fear
    • Anger
    • Worry
    • Uncertainty
    • Sadness
    • Isolation
    • Loneliness
    • Guilt
    • Frustration
    • Grief
    • Resentment

Understanding that they might be feeling some or all of these difficult emotions can help you as you try to be as supportive of them as possible. Sometimes our efforts to be helpful can be frustrating to cancer patients who just need time and space to work things out in their minds, and cope with the disease in their own way. the following are some things that you should try not to do:

    • Suggest to them that they have to “fight it”, “be strong”, or “stay positive” because it actually just has the negative effect of putting pressure on them to think or behave in a certain way that they just aren’t ready to attempt yet.
    • Never tell them that you know how they feel, especially if you have never suffered form cancer yourself! Everyone’s experience is different, and no one can really know how someone who has cancer actually feels.
    • Be sure not to take it personally if they become upset or angry and don’t want to talk to you, they are suffering and just can’t deal with anybody at the moment, so be forgiving.
    • Never attempt to offer advice that they haven’t actually asked you for.
    • Don’t try to compare their situation to another person you may know who has cancer, everyone’s experience with the disease is uniquely their own and such comparisons aren’t really helpful.

The best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is to simply be a good listener! Do your best to be aware of their thoughts and feelings as much as you can, no one expects you to have all the answers. By just listening to their concerns you are being a big help!