Q:

How do you support someone who has been diagnosed with cancer?

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Quick Answer

To support someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, offer your caring presence, advises the American Cancer Society. Do not try to change the way a person is feeling or make light of the upsetting news she has just received. Simply make yourself available as a comforting, non-judgmental friend who listens when she is ready to talk.

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Full Answer

It is important to put your own feelings aside when supporting a person dealing with a cancer diagnosis, explains the American Cancer Society. Do not try to provide opinions or theories about medical procedures with which you are unfamiliar, and avoid offering unasked-for advice.

Cancer patients face a wide variety of emotionally charged fears, notes the American Cancer Society, and the caregiver must be prepared to encounter several different scenarios. One patient may not yet be ready to accept her diagnosis and may be in shock or denial; another may be experiencing an emotional breakdown. Take your cues for how to respond from the patient, and be sure to respect her desire for privacy.

Do not exclude a person from regular plans and activities because of her illness, warns the American Cancer Society. Strive for normalcy in your relationship, and offer to help in practical ways, such as with transportation, meal planning or childcare.

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