For Friends and Family: Offering Support to Cancer Patients

Whether newly diagnosed or further along in the journey of an advanced disease, experiencing a cancer diagnosis of a friend or family member can be an emotional and confusing time. One of the first steps is to understand how you can offer support through this difficult time, as well as how you can receive support for yourself.

While finding the best way to express support for a loved one through their cancer diagnosis can be challenging, here are a few tips.

  • Don’t allow the cancer diagnosis to change your relationship: Treat the person with cancer as you normally would. Showing your interest and listening without being demanding can ease a patient’s experience.
  • Learn about cancer: To ensure your loved one has all the information they need to make informed decisions, be sure to educate yourself on the main facts about their type of cancer and treatment options for it.
  • Connect them with a community: Sometimes the best resources come from those who have experienced the disease firsthand. Help your loved one build relationships with other cancer patients, survivors and physicians to help them navigate through this experience. Support groups, online blogs and cancer associations are just some of the many resources available.
  • Seek support for yourself: Personal upkeep of the mind, body and spirit is essential when caring for a loved one with cancer. It is easier to maintain a positive attitude and avoid stress with enough sleep and a healthy lifestyle. Taking advantage of yoga, meditation or talking with a friend can help families and caregivers navigate the treatment process.

Visit the American Cancer Society for additional tips on ways to offer support for cancer patients.

This is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your health care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.