Tips for Talking to a Cancer Patient
- Don’t stress about coming up with the perfect words. This is a new situation for both of you. If you don’t know what to say, be honest about it. Your loved one will let you know what he or she needs.
- Keep the focus on the patient. You’re there to help them, not the other way around. Talk to another friend or family member if you need a sounding board.
- Avoid clichés or dismissive comments like “You’ll be fine” or “At least you got the ‘good’ cancer.” Of course you don’t want to be a source of doom and gloom, but minimizing the situation doesn’t make the patient feel any better.
- Every case of cancer is different. Don’t bring up friends, family members or acquaintances and compare their situations.
- Don’t ask for details about their cancer treatment such as blood test results or possible side effects. Let them share information if they like, but respect their personal boundaries.
- Sometimes no words are necessary. Your loved one might want you to provide a sympathetic ear, or may prefer a period of silence. Be willing to graciously accommodate their wishes.
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