Basic Do's and Don'ts When Someone You Know Has Cancer

20 Sep 2021

It can be tough to find the right words when someone close to you has cancer. Feelings like fear, sadness, helpfulness, and grief are very common and a natural first response to the news of a C-diagnose. This is one reason why we created a platform with tools to express yourself in a hopeful and powerful way and contribute to someone’s future perspective by donating or creating a fundraising event. With the income of our webshopdonate, and act page, we fund groundbreaking cancer research.


But, how can you act around someone that has cancer? Should you be sad or optimistic? Should you call or visit, or should you leave that person alone and let the initiative come from the person? Can you still see who they are, or did they become a patient, and should you act like that? Everybody has his or her own way of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, but here are some do’s and don’ts that hopefully answer some of the questions you might have. 


Cherries on Top - Blog: Do's and don'ts


  • Take your cues from the person with cancer. Some people are very private, while others will openly talk about their illness. Respect the person’s need to share or their need for privacy.
  • Let them know you care.
  • Respect their decisions about how their cancer will be treated, even if you disagree.
  • Include the person in usual work projects, plans, and social events. Let them be the one to tell you if the commitment is too much to manage.
  • Listen without always feeling that you have to respond. Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs the most.
  • Expect the person with cancer to have good days and bad days, emotionally and physically.
  • Keep your relationship as normal and as balanced as possible. While greater patience and compassion are called for during times like these, your friend should continue to respect your feelings, as you respect their feelings.
  • Offer to help in concrete, specific ways.



  • Offer advice they don’t ask for or be judgmental.
  • Feel you must put up with serious displays of temper or mood swings. You shouldn’t accept disruptive or abusive behavior just because someone is ill.
  • Take things too personally. It’s normal for the person with cancer to be quieter than usual, to need time alone, and to be angry at times.
  • Be afraid to talk about the illness.
  • Always feel you have to talk about cancer. The person with cancer may enjoy conversations that don’t involve the illness.
  • Be afraid to hug or touch your friend if that was a part of your friendship before the illness.
  • Be patronizing. (Try not to use a “How sick are you today?” tone when asking how the person is doing.)
  • Tell the person with cancer, “I can imagine how you must feel,” because you really can’t.
  • Go around someone with cancer if you are sick, or have a fever or any other signs of infection.


Hopefully, these do's and don'ts help make you feel more confident and comfortable during your time together. And if you'd like to surprise the person with cancer, we have a special blog post called '9 Gift Ideas for Someone With Cancer That Don't Cost a Thing' that you might find interesting to read.  

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