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What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer?

What do I say to someone diagnosed with cancer?



“I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care” – There isn’t a perfect thing to say

“I’m sorry that you have to go through all this” – is a way of showing empathy not pity

“What things need to happen, and how can I help?” – Shows you are on board with the everyday stuff

“I heard what is happening and I’ve been wondering how you are” – acknowledge the news if you have ‘heard on the grapevine’

“If you feel like talking about it I am here, anytime” – offer opportunities to talk, be sensitive to cues


Offer specific things you can do to help; like cleaning, cooking, mowing, picking up children from school

Listen more than you talk

Make extra time for the person. Offer to take them to treatment, and to sit and chat if they want that

Treat them the same; they feel as if enough has changed without weird interactions too.

If you normally hug and touch the person, then do that. Cancer isn’t contagious

Talk about things other than cancer; they are (1) a person and (2) have cancer – don’t get that mixed up

Read their e-mail update, blog, web page etc if they have one; it saves them going over things and shows interest

Expect the person to have good and bad days, both physically and emotionally

Be patient and compassionate; cut some slack if they behave a bit out of character (as long as it’s not abusive)

Keep supporting after the treatment has finished; side effects and emotions take time to heal

We would like to send you our love and support and hope you find a way to offer your love and support to your loved one in your own special way.  J&J xx

If you’re looking for a special way of sending your love, we have put together care packs and gift baskets, selected by cancer specialists.

We also have gifts especially for: Inspiration, Pampering, Friendship, Relaxation and much more.   For your personal message, we have hand picked some special cards with touching and insightful messages to share your love and lift your loved one’s spirits.

A few examples, below. Or try following one of our links for further inspiration.