How to Deal with a Cancer Diagnosis in the Family:

Getting a cancer diagnosis is no small thing. Everyone is different, every situation is different, and every family is different, so just remember that what works for some does not always work for everyone. A lot of people don’t know how to react or what to say when someone they know is going through a loss. And it is a loss, because even though your family member is still with you, no matter what that time frame looks like, life will irrevocably be different from this point on and you are losing a small piece of the life you had before the diagnosis. 

So you will hear all kinds of things from the people around you on what to do and who you can talk to and so on and so on……it’s coming from a good place, but no one truly knows what you’re experiencing except for you. As you go through these tips and thoughts, keep that in mind.


When someone is dealing with a disease like cancer or any disease for that matter, listening can be HUGE. A lot of times we think we are listening, but we are actually interrupting or waiting to tell our story or give our input; truly listening is difficult to do. Most of the time, it’s the best thing we can do. We don’t always need to respond or ask a question or anything, we just need to be present and listen to our person. 

One of the most powerful ways to show that we care is by being there, listening to whatever it is they need to get off their chest. Plus, when someone feels they are being listened to, it helps them be open and present in the moment, two things that are not easy to do when you first find out your diagnosis. When your sense of control is lost, having control over the smallest things can have the largest impact.

Maintain A Schedule

Which leads to another important point, maintaining a sense of normalcy in a tumultuous time is part of that control piece and it is no easy task. It takes patience, planning, and persistence. The conversation doesn’t always have to be about cancer, the schedule needs to stay relatively similar with some changes as needed, and there will be times you want to give up. But don’t. 

You can do this. 

Respect & Offer Support

Respect your family members’ decisions when it comes to how they want to approach things whether that’s the overall conversation or the schedule and go with it. When you do offer to help them, try to recommend or do specific things. Asking someone who already has a trillion things running through their mind what you can do, is simply adding to their list of things. 

And even though they are going through something extremely devastating, don’t forget that you are in it as well, make sure you take care of yourself so that you are able to be there for your family.

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