Finding out that someone you know has cancer is always difficult, especially if you don’t know what to say. Supporting them involves listening to what they have to say and being aware of cues in their behaviour.
It’s important not to make assumptions and it’s usually best to ask their permission before diving into sensitive or personal conversations.
Saying simple things like, “I’m here for you” or “if you’d like to talk, I can listen” can be helpful. Remember to acknowledge their emotions, and also understand that they might not always want to talk.
How Adults Can Help Kids
Knowing what to say to someone who has cancer can be difficult enough for adults. But for kids, who might not know what cancer is, it can be a confusing and scary time.
While the focus is often on the person who has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s also important to ask their family members how they are coping. This is especially the case when children may be facing the diagnosis of a parent, a carer, a sibling, or a friend.
The Kids’ Guide to Cancer app is an age-appropriate and interactive resource that helps children learn about cancer, and it facilitates conversations between adults and kids.
Finding out that your friend or someone in your family has cancer can be very difficult. It’s hard to know what to say or know how you can help them.
Here are a few ideas for what to say:
“How are you going?”
By asking how they are, you show that you care about them and that you’re thinking about their feelings.
“How can I help?”
Offering to help can be a really simple way of showing you care for someone.
“I love you.”
Tell the person you care for that you love them. Have a chat and talk about how you are both feeling. Remember, it’s OK to feel sad or grumpy. Sometimes you might not feel like talking. That’s OK too.
“I’m here if you’d like to talk.”
Offering to be there for them, and to talk about both of your feelings, shows that you care.
Just talk about normal things.
When someone is facing cancer, it can get tiring talking about it all the time. Sometimes it’s good to talk about ordinary things like how your day at school was, what you watched on TV, or your favourite toys, sport, or movies.
Find Out More
For further ideas on how you can help someone with cancer, download the free Kids’ Guide to Cancer app.
It’s available in the Apple App Store or through Google Play.
The Kids’ Guide to Cancer app has a lot more suggestions for how to help someone who’s facing cancer
- Talk to your family about having a plan for how to help when the person you care about is feeling sick. This might be to assist with chores, or call a family friend to come over and help.
- Make a card or gift. Making a card or drawing a picture can be a nice way of showing someone you care about them. Maybe you could collect some of your favourite photos and share them.
- Keep in touch. Sometimes if a friend or your brother or sister has cancer, they might have to spend time in hospital. So, they might be away from school or home for a while. You can make the time to call, text or video message them.
- If you’re worried about what’s happening, you can talk with someone you trust. Or, if you need someone to talk to, you can ring Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.