Studies have proven that emotionally, people do better when they are supported by friends and family members. It’s heartbreaking finding out someone you know has cancer. You want to comfort them but you’re thinking “What should I say?”, “What should I do?” and “How should I respond?”

Here are some tips that you can consider prior to talking to someone with cancer:

  • Prepare yourself: It’s difficult news to process. Make sure you take some time to recognise and manage your own emotions about the diagnosis before you visit them.
  • Research more on their diagnosis: Make sure to research and learn more about their cancer. They may not want to talk about their diagnosis right now but be prepared when they are, so you can support them in the best way possible.
  • Understand the other person’s feeling: Try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes… How would you want to be treated? Start your visit by saying, “It’s good to see you” instead of making comments on their changing physical appearance.


Offer to help: A lot of people find it hard to ask for help. Offer your help if possible by walking the dog and helping with childcare and groceries.

Treat them the same: Just because they have been diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean that they are a different person. Try not to treat them any different than you always have.

Talk about other topics other than cancer: People going through treatment can grow tired of talking about the disease. They need a break sometimes, so talk about other things such as travel, hobbies or any other topics not related to cancer.


Relay stories of other people with cancer: Do not talk about stories of other people who have had cancer. This can be overwhelming and irrelevant. Only tell them if they ask.

Assume knowledge of how the other person feels: Do not assume that you know how other people feel. How they experience their cancer is defined by them and them only.

Avoid them: Don’t avoid them just because you don’t know what to say or do to comfort them. They will still appreciate your company.

Show your support for a friend, colleague or sibling by joining this year’s World’s Greatest Shave Campaign by signing up here.

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