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Picture of Topic Friends and family


Topic Friends and family

For anyone supporting someone else with cancer

  • 156 conversations

What to say to a cancer patient

Started by Anonymous on 19 June 2016 at 17:33

I was diagnosed with non Hodgkin's lymphoma 18 months ago. I didn't want to discuss my diagnosis with acquaintances or even certain family members. But I found many people looked at me differently and often made comments which made me feel very isolated and alone. eg.. "Lucky it's not the worst kind of cancer" Or. How are you feeling?" I mean how can one feel after just receiving a cancer diagnosis.?!!! Please tell me what one says to a cancer patient. It's embarrassing for patient & friend/family/acquaintances

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  • From Anonymous
    08 October 2016 at 17:47


    I was diagnosed with NHL in 2009 and had 8 sessions of R CHOP chemo and 15 sessions of radiotherapy and I am now in complete remission. I talked openly about my cancer as I found it helped me. Maggie's on line was a huge support to me for over 5 years, through the toughest times and with out them I would not have managed.

    I have had a long break from Maggie's on line as I have had a lot of other things going on but i am now back and ready to help others.

    How has your treatment gone and how are you feeling now?

    Beverley x

  • Picture of SusieQ
    From SusieQ  
    20 June 2016 at 09:56
    Edited on: 20 June 2016 at 09:57


    It is something that often crops up in conversations in Maggie's Centres - 'what do I say?' - when family and friends have just heard someone they care about has cancer.

    Many people suddenly feel quite awkward - and normal conversations suddenly feel laden with a deeper significance. Friends and family may be shocked themselves, and try to think of something comforting to say - but sometimes the phrases expressed can sound thoughtless. Some friends find they feel anxious, and simply dont know what to say. It's OK to admit that...rather than avoid conversations, and stop being in touch.

    It can be hard, when someone is first diagnosed, to feel like talking about their cancer with others...till the news has been absorbed by themselves first.

    It often helps to follow the person with cancer's lead...some newly diagnosed people veer away from the deeper stuff, keeping things deliberately light, whilst others are more open striaght away.

    If they open up about what is going on, then listen more than's sometimes easy to burden the newly diagnosed person with how you're feeling about what is happening, rather than listening to how it is for them.

    There's a good article on the subject, from Cancer.Net, 'Talking with someone who has cancer' which gives some useful suggestions on what to say and what not to say...

    I'm sure there'll be others in our Maggie's Online Community, who will have experienced the same thing you have...and any tips on what helped and hindered in conversations would be valued...

    Warm wishes




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