How to cope with a friend or loved one being diagnosed with cancer

The Big Casino. The dreaded C. The State of Cansas. Whatever you want to call it, Cancer is a disease which affects someone every two minutes, and chances are you will experience a friend or loved one battling this aggressive illness at some point in your life. It can become a tough time for you, having to see a person you care about go through something so difficult, and can be a sensitive subject to approach... BUT it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.

In the video above from Stand Up To Cancer... Personal Stories, British Judo champion Jamie talks openly about his brain tumour diagnosis, and the fact that he is unlikely to see the age of 30. Jamie's parents discuss his illness as their "worst nightmare", however Jamie's bleak prospect only fuels his need to make every moment count. Watch other Stand Up To Cancer clips here.


Have you ever been affected by cancer?


The C-Word

It isn't easy seeing someone you care about battling cancer. What should you say, what can you do, and who are you able to turn to when things get a bit overwhelming? Here are some tips to help you out...

Try to understand what they may be going through

Having cancer can be a pretty scary rollercoaster of a ride, and simply listening to their worries can make all the difference. Do some research into what they are going through and let them know that they are not alone. Useful advice and support can also be found on the Macmillan and Cancer Research websites.

Be patient

Somebody with cancer may behave erratically and irrationally and this can be both hurtful and confusing, but remember not to take it personally! Their emotions may be all over the place as they feel a loss of control, but it's important to know that this isn't your fault. Having said that, you should not accept abusive behaviour under any circumstance.

Respect their privacy

Just because somebody has told you that they have cancer, it may not necessarily mean that they want you to share this information with anybody else. If somebody asks you about it, it's best to say it's not really your place to discuss it; and just because someone has shared a diagnosis with you, it doesn't mean that they want to tell you every detail about it. Don't push them to share more information than they would like - simply let them know that you are there for them if they'd like to talk.

Express yourself

It's never a good idea to bottle up your emotions, but if you struggle to tell people how you feel then how about keeping a diary or a blog? Simply jotting down how difficult you are finding this time can offer you a huge sigh of relief.

Compliment them

If they're looking good, tell them! Let them know when they're wearing something nice or when their smile looks particularly radiant! Try to avoid comments that will make them feel worse, such as pointing out that they look pale and unwell.

Avoid saying "I know how you feel"

Only someone who's battled cancer can really know how it feels, and trying too hard to empathise could make it seem as if you are trivialising the situation. A better way to approach it is simply by making it known that you care about the person and want to help any which way you can.

Stay positive

Upsetting thoughts may naturally cross your mind and it can be easy to feel like everything is crashing down on you, but thinking positively will make yourself and everyone else around you feel that little bit better. Many people with cancer draw strength from their friends and loved ones - your encouraging attitude can make more of a difference than you might realise.

Remember that they are the same person!

It can be easy to treat someone with cancer as a victim, but the last thing most people want is to be seen as vulnerable! This is the same person you've always known and just because they have cancer, it doesn't change who they really are. Don't be afraid to share the same jokes and spark up the same great conversations as you did before their diagnosis.

You are not alone

If you would like more support and advice on dealing with cancer, check out our support site.

Check out the Channel 4 support site (This link opens in a new window)

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