5 Ways to Support a Loved One After Cancer Diagnosis


A cancer diagnosis can be hard to accept, and if someone you love has been diagnosed, you might be looking for ways to offer care and support. Here are five things you can do to help your loved one understand that they don’t have to navigate this scary situation alone.

Acknowledge it.
A lot of people don’t know what to say when a loved one announces they’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Because of this, some people don’t say anything at all, and that can feel dismissive and hurtful. Make sure you acknowledge that this is a difficult time, even if you’re at a loss for words. Acknowledging the complex feelings that come with diagnosis can help people talk through their feelings, fears and experiences with this new reality.

Be a good listener.
Try saying, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here and I’m listening,” so your loved one knows you’re not going to ignore this tough time. Invite them to share their thoughts and feelings with you by saying things like, “How are you doing?” or “If you’d like to talk, I’m here for you.” Then, practice active listening when they’re ready to share with you.

Show up.
There are lots of ways to support loved ones through a cancer diagnosis. You can spend quality time with them, help with meals, bills, cleaning or childcare, or participate in the cancer community by raising money for cancer research with an organization like Padres Pedal. Help in whatever way your loved one responds to most. Show up physically, emotionally or by offering pragmatic help. It all counts.

Help them find or attend counseling or a support group.
Your loved one may need more help than you can offer, or they may need to be around other people living with cancer. Helping someone you love find a support group or counselor to help them cope with their diagnosis shows them you’re willing to help support them, even when you can’t do it alone.

Respect their lead.
Often, we believe that staying positive and encouraging is the most helpful. However, your good intentions could make your loved one feel uncomfortable sharing their true feelings and fears with you. If they want to stay positive, great! But sometimes, they may feel angry, sad or frightened, and the pressure to stay positive might shut them down. Pay attention to how they handle their diagnosis and follow their lead.

Supporting someone you love through a cancer diagnosis isn’t always easy, but it is important. There are big and small ways to show your support, but joining us in November to raise vital funds shows your loved one, “I’m here, I see you and I’ll support you through this.” Get involved, be there, and truly listening can help your loved one through cancer diagnosis.

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