- How do you talk to someone who has cancer?
- About cancer
- Hearing the news
- Ways people cope with a cancer diagnosis
- Living with cancer
- Sources of support
- Concern for the family and caregivers
- Help and information
- If your loved one decides to stop getting treatment
- If your loved one refuses cancer treatment
- Facing the final stage of life
- Summing up: Talking to the person with cancer
- To learn more
How do you talk to someone who has cancer?
When someone close to you has cancer and starts to talk about it, do you change the subject? Do you stand in silence, worried that you’ll say the wrong thing? If so, you’re not alone. Many people don’t know what to say to a person who has cancer.
When talking with someone who has cancer, the most important thing is to just listen. Try to hear and understand how they feel. Don’t make light, judge, or try to change the way the person feels or acts. Try to put your own feelings and fears aside. Let them know that you’re open to talking whenever they feel like it. Or, if the person doesn’t feel like talking right now, that’s OK, too. You can offer to listen whenever they’re ready.
Here we will share some ideas on how to be supportive and helpful when you talk with someone who has cancer. You can learn how to make the person with cancer know that you are someone they can truly count on. We call this kind of communication “listening with your heart.”
Last Medical Review: 06/09/2014
Last Revised: 02/05/2015