Your loved one has cancer: what to tell them? (and what to avoid)

Proactively support those who have just received a diagnosis

Imagine someone close to you says: “I was diagnosed with cancer.” Maybe it’s a family member, co-worker, or friend. Whoever it is, they’ve informed you of a situation that’ll radically change your lives. How should you respond? How should you treat them from now on?

Foster communication

Keep that person’s feelings in mind. There are countless things you should avoid doing or saying, but what this person needs most is to be heard. They’ve trusted you and shared this news with you. Communication and empathy will be key.

What shouldn’t you say?

You should avoid certain words and phrases. For example, telling them everything will be fine doesn’t take their feelings into account. Truly, you don’t know if everything will be fine and whoever suffers from this disease will realize it.

Other answers and actions to avoid are:

1. Being insensitively insistent

Studies show that keeping a positive attitude is vital to overcome an illness. However, it’s normal for the diagnosed person’s mood to change when they’re not feeling well. Although it’s best to be around to try to cheer them up, you shouldn’t force them to ignore their feelings. Insisting that they be upbeat in a difficult time can make them feel like you don’t understand their situation.

2. Making comments about their appearance

Remember: empathy is key. Don’t make negative comments. Positive comments and observations are always welcome.

3. Suggesting medical treatments

If you’re not a doctor who specializes in cancer, avoid mentioning these. It’s always best to let health professionals handle medical treatment, as they have the knowledge and experience to do so.

4. Blaming the person for their disease

Insinuating that they have cancer because they smoked, for example, isn’t very empathetic.

5. Ambiguity when offering support

Don’t use ambiguous phrases. Instead, use phrases that assure the person that you will help them. Be specific when you offer help and keep your word when you agree to help them with something.

What can you do?

Don’t exclude them from activities due to their disease. Some patients can stay quite active and follow normal daily routines. However, there are certain cases in which rest is recommended. If this is the case, how can you include them without affecting their health? Remember: you should never pressure them to go out if their medical recommendation says otherwise.

It’s best to talk to the person and see what you can do for them. Although, previously, you’ve had experience with a cancer patient, every case is different. Each person faces the situation in their own way and has particular medical recommendations. It’s important to respect these decisions.

How can you help?

It’s important to offer them specific support. You can help them with various household tasks: cooking, cleaning, taking care of their children and/or pets, etc. The list can be indefinite and will depend on the person’s individual needs. It could also be something as simple as visiting them. It all depends on what you’re willing to do for them.

So, what should you say when someone reveals a cancer diagnosis? Saying nothing isn’t a good option, but neither is using empty and insensitive words.

Be understanding and acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. Honesty is also an excellent option. Be honest, empathetic, sensitive, and sincere. This is difficult situation, so support them.

Rely on TOLIC

A cancer diagnosis can arrive at the most inopportune time. At TOLIC, we want you to be well. Therefore, we offer you 3 cancer policies that adjust to your needs.

· Suma Única Plus: Our cancer policy that pays you the total sum in a single payment. It has plans from $3,000 up to $100,000 and doesn’t expire after a positive cancer diagnosis.

· Cancer Única Plus: Extensive coverage for cancer and 43 specific illnesses. It has 57 benefits that are paid directly to the Insured.

· Cancer Elite Plus: Our basic policy for cancer and 43 other specific illnesses. It has 34 benefits and can be acquired by people over 70 years old.

For more information, visit our website or email us to contact one of our representatives (


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