How to cope with a cancer diagnosis in the family

Being told that someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer is utterly gut-wrenching. You feel a sea of emotions, ranging from disbelief, to fear, anxiety, and of course hope. It’s also normal to have thousands of questions and concerns about how to handle this life-changing news. 

How will things at home change? What are the right or wrong things to say? Will they lose their hair? Should we talk about it? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities. You want to be there for your loved one, but you also need time to process this information yourself.

Here we’ll explore how to cope with a cancer diagnosis in the family.

Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions

As mentioned above, your emotions are likely to be all over the place. But this is nothing compared to what your loved one might be going through. Bear in mind that there may be a day-to-day difference in how they’re feeling. If their diagnosis is the result of a work-related illness, then they could be angry – finding out if you can sue for lung cancer could offer your loved one and their family a financial lifeline, click the link to find out more. 

They could be suffering from a sudden lack of control, resentment, guilt, a sense of grief… one day they could be filled with hope and looking to the future whilst the next day, doubt and fear could cloud their optimism. The possibilities are endless, but it’s important to ride this wave of emotions with them. Take the lead from them and don’t resent them for having unpredictable moods. 

Do some research of your own

We all fear what we don’t understand. So, to quell your own feelings of fear and the unknown, why not conduct your own research? There are lots of different kinds of cancer, all with different stages, and different treatment options. By educating yourself you may find yourself handling the situation and understanding your loved one’s emotions a little better.

Remember: While you may feel educated on the subject, remember not to push your opinions or findings onto your loved one. While you may think you’re helping, you could be making them feel worse! 

Learn what to say

It’s not easy to know what to say to someone who has cancer. There is no magic phrase and we all worry about saying the wrong thing. Sometimes, a simple expression of support (or an “I love you”) can make a huge impact. Simply asking how they’re doing and keeping them in your thoughts can be incredibly meaningful. Sadly, many friendships and relationships break down after a cancer diagnosis, so letting your loved one know that you’re not going anywhere will mean a lot. 

Final thoughts…

Believe it or not, your loved one probably won’t want to talk about their diagnosis all the time. Ask them how you can support them, whether it’s taking them to appointments or still inviting them to your home for coffee and enjoying some normality. Don’t be afraid to talk about normal things, laugh together and shed a tear when they want to. You’ll both benefit from this.

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