Here are a few tips from the Canadian Cancer Society on helping someone with cancer:

  • Spend time with the diagnosed. Let the person with cancer be the leader. When they want to talk, listen. Make sure you listen to how they talk, not just what they say. Try to hear what they mean but may not be able to say. Don’t offer advice unless you’re asked to.
  • Respect their wishes. Every person with cancer has their own feelings about cancer. Some people don’t want to talk about it. Others may want to talk about it one day but not the next.
  • Set aside time for visiting when you won’t be distracted, and take the time you need to listen well. Turn off cell phones or pagers, and focus on the person you are visiting.
  • Tell a joke and laugh; it may help the person with cancer get their mind off their illness. People with cancer do not want to talk about their disease all the time. It;s okay to laugh and enjoy life, even when ill.
  • Try to keep your eyes on the person you are talking to. If you keep looking around, they might wonder if you’re being honest and open. People can also pick up things from the tone of your voice or the way your face looks. Touching or smiling show someone with cancer that they still mean as much to you, even if they are ill.