Tips for Families of Patients

 

Every patient responds to their cancer diagnosis in their own way and that is completely normal. It is important to keep in mind that your loved one is likely to experience a roller coaster of emotion and you'll need to hold on for the ride and be there for them. On the same token, you're also entitled to have strong emotions during this challenging time.

You will likely start to recognize that conversations with your family and friends might grow strained because they are afraid to say “the wrong thing.” Here are some suggestions of topics to share and topics to avoid:

  • Don’t be afraid to say the word “cancer,” you don’t have to feel bad about being direct.
  • Do ask how you can help with specific tasks, no matter how simple.
  • Don’t make generalized offers to help.
  • Do small things to show you care that will brighten their day.
  • Don’t try to provide false hope, they aren’t expecting you to fix everything.
  • Do make time to sit and listen.
  • Don’t offer advice on how to overcome this adversity.
  • Do consider how to talk about cancer with children of various ages.
  • Don’t talk about people you know who have cancer or have died of cancer.
  • Do your own research so that you can feel comfortable with the cancer terminology.