Feature Article: Talking to Someone with Cancer

by | Feb 7, 2022 | Featured Article | 0 comments

Discovering that you have cancer is disheartening. Many people don’t know how to cope and often blame themselves for getting cancer.

Usually, people diagnosed with cancer do not know how to deal with it and what to do. Because of this, many people with cancer lean on their family and friends for support. It does not only mean being able to help a person with cancer keep up with their different treatments and medication. This also means giving them emotional support and the courage and willpower to continue the treatments despite the difficulty. Because of this, communicating well and effectively with someone with cancer is essential. So here are some tips you may use when talking with them:

Be honest

Many people with cancer want to hear the truth from those around them. People usually lie to cancer patients to make them feel better. Remember that cancer patients can sense when you are not telling the truth.

Because of this, honesty often makes you a more genuine person that people diagnosed with cancer can feel like they depend on. If you are honest, people are likelier to want to talk to you because you give them honest opinions of who and what you are.

Avoid pointing out their appearance

Making comments like “You look so pale” or “You got so thin” often reminds cancer patients of what they are going through. They are already aware of these body changes and sometimes feel bad since they are constantly reminded that they are sick. Because of this, avoid making unsolicited comments about their appearance, especially if they do not ask for it.

Remind them that you are there

Venting or talking about their emotions is vital for many people to process what they are going through fully. Reminding them that you are there and that they can talk to you whenever something does not go according to plan or when they feel hopeless or disappointed about something is a great way of reassuring them.

However, one thing to remember is to avoid pressuring them into talking. Maybe they’re just not ready to talk about it yet or are just not that close to you. Regardless, forcing them to open up will give them more anxiety than comfort.


Empathizing with someone entails trying to understand what they may be going through. Researching about their medications and reading books like those of W. Veronica Lisare can be done to get a glimpse of the battle of cancer. Recognizing the struggles they may be going through and the common side effects of their treatments often help you see what they may be feeling from their perspective will help build empathy. 

However, one thing to recognize is that even though you are learning about their situation, you are not in their situation. This means that even if you try hard to understand it, you will never experience this. Avoid statements like, “I know what you are going through,” especially if you have never had cancer, and compare their experiences to some experiences you may have had. Statements like these can irritate some, so try to avoid them as much as possible.

Support their decisions

At one point in any person’s cancer journey, they might refuse treatment or stop medication for something they may have been discussing for a while. Sometimes, if their cancer spreads, gets worse, or comes back and needs additional treatments, people feel tired and remorseful. Sometimes, they need to talk to someone or just need hope to continue going on. However, if it ever were to come that they refuse treatment after knowing all the risks, supporting their decision can be the best thing you can do for them.


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