What do I say?

It’s difficult to know what to say when you learn that someone has cancer. Whether it’s someone close to you or a friend or colleague.

Many people try to boost the person up and will be super positive around them. There are always positive stories about people who have beaten cancer and are still alive and well, years later. I heard plenty of those. Equally, there are those who end up with secondary cancer and don’t survive.

Other people will give them the concerned, ‘poor you’ face and tell them they’re being ‘brave’ or just avoid them because they don’t want to feel awkward or just don’t know how to react or what to say.

Platitudes, sympathy and positivity are all very well and each of us will need and want to hear different things.

If you don’t know what to say – ask.

What do they need? What can you do to help? How are they feeling? Yes, daft question, as they’re probably feeling crap but if they’re honest enough to tell you how they really feel it can help just to be able to open up and talk about it.

Be supportive and be there for them. Be the person that spends time with them or takes them off for the day so they can just feel normal for a few hours. Talking about normal ‘stuff’ stops them thinking about themselves and what they’re going through.

Some people will withdraw and just want to have close friends and family around them. Some people will really value the support and offers of help from anyone and everyone.

Let them know you’re thinking about them, even if you’re not able to be there for them.


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