More Mindful Ways to Talk to People Living with Cancer

An adult child laughs with her mother after learning how to be more mindful about talking to people living with cancer.
We can help you be more mindful when talking to people living with cancer.

Talking to someone you love who is living with cancer can feel awkward at times. Should you bring up their diagnosis right away, or steer clear of the C word altogether? Is it ok to try to be funny? What if they start crying? Interactions become loaded with unspoken emotions, and finding the right words is not easy.

You’re not the only one experiencing this. The uncertainty and fear of cancer can leave many families paralyzed in conversation. Here are some tips to bear in mind to better navigate these tough conversations:

  • Offer useful support: Take the lead to suggest specific ways you can lend a helping hand, be it running errands, preparing meals, or providing transportation to appointments. These small acts of kindness can make a big difference in their everyday life.
  • Be genuine: Avoid sounding disingenuous or cliché. Instead, speak from the heart and offer sincere words of support and encouragement.
  • Keep in mind personal boundaries: Every person’s journey with cancer is unique. Respect their wishes regarding privacy and disclosure, and allow them to guide the conversation.
  • Listen: Sometimes, the most encouraging thing you can do is to lend an empathetic ear. Let them share their fears, frustrations, and hopes without interruption or judgment.
  • Don’t forget about you: Supporting a loved one with cancer can be emotionally challenging. Make sure to prioritize your own well-being and seek support when you need it. By taking proper care of yourself, you’ll be better able to support the person you love over time.

Even further, remember that everyone’s experience living with cancer is different, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Empathy and flexibility are key when navigating these sensitive conversations.

Lastly, it can’t be overstated how valuable your mere presence can be to the person you love. Your presence and support, even if you’re not certain what to say, can provide enormous comfort during this challenging time. So, take a breath, be present, and don’t forget that your love and support mean even more than you might realize.

Contact JFS Care for help, too. Our caregivers are trained and experienced in supporting individuals with cancer and the families who love them with an array of services, including:

  • Running errands, like trips to market and picking up prescriptions
  • Respectful assistance with personal care and hygiene, preserving dignity and independence
  • Planning and preparing healthy meals, taking into account difficulties with appetite or any other challenging symptoms
  • Friendly companionship to brighten every day
  • Light housekeeping, laundry, and linen changes
  • And so much more

Serving West Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, as well as the surrounding areas, we are just a phone call away at 213-383-2273.