May 21, 2024 by Dean Bellefeuille

The adult child of a senior with cancer laughs with her parent as they sit on the couch.

Talking to someone you love who is living with cancer can be awkward and uncomfortable for both parties to say the least. Should you jump right in and talk about the elephant in the room, or avoid the C word altogether? Is it ok to try to make the person laugh? What if they start crying? Conversations become loaded with unspoken emotions, and finding the right words isn’t easy.

You’re not the only one having this experience. Families often struggle with effective communication after facing a cancer diagnosis. Here are some tips to keep in mind to better navigate these tough conversations:

  • Be genuine. Avoid canned responses and clichés so you don’t come off as hollow. Instead, speak from the heart and offer sincere words of encouragement and support.
  • Listen Actively. All it takes is a listening ear sometimes. Let them share their fears, frustrations, and hopes without judgment or interruption.
  • Offer practical assistance: Take initiative in offering specific ways you can help, whether it’s running errands, preparing meals, or providing transportation to appointments. These small acts of kindness can make a big difference in their daily life.
  • Be mindful of boundaries: No one’s experience with cancer is the same. Respect their wishes regarding privacy and disclosure, and let them guide the conversation.
  • Keep yourself in mind: You can’t be superhuman as you provide care for someone you love. Remember to prioritize your own well-being and seek support when you need it. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better able to support the person you love in the long run.

Even past these, remember that what works for one person living with cancer may not work for another. Flexibility and empathy are key when navigating these sensitive conversations.

Lastly, remember the value of simply showing up for a person you love. Your presence and support, even if you’re not sure what to say, can provide immense comfort during this challenging time. So, take a deep breath, be present, and remember that your love and support mean more than you may realize.

Reach out to At Home Independent Living for help, too. Our caregivers are trained and experienced in supporting those with cancer and the families who love them with a wide range of services, including:

  • Planning and preparing healthy meals, taking into consideration difficulties with appetite or other challenging symptoms
  • Respectful support with personal care and hygiene, preserving dignity and independence
  • Running errands, such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
  • Light housekeeping, laundry, and linen changes
  • Friendly companionship to brighten each day
  • And so much more

Serving Syracuse, Camillus, Clay, and the surrounding areas, we’re just a phone call away! Contact us online or at (315) 579-HOME (4663).