Effective Communication Strategies for Families Dealing With Cancer

A mother and daughter share a laugh as they navigate the complexities of families dealing with cancer.

For families dealing with cancer, empathy, understanding, and heartfelt conversations are important.

Having a conversation with a relative with cancer can leave you feeling awkward and unsure of what to say. Should you bring up their diagnosis right away, or steer clear of the C word altogether? Is it ok to try and be funny? What should you do if they start crying? Interactions become laden with unspoken emotions, and finding the right words isn’t easy.

You are not alone in this struggle. Many families dealing with cancer wrestle with the challenge of communicating effectively in the midst of the fear and uncertainty. Here are some ideas to bear in mind to better navigate these complicated conversations:

  • Have respect for their personal boundaries: Each individual’s journey with cancer is unique. Respect their wishes regarding privacy and disclosure, and let them steer the conversation.
  • Be genuine: Avoid platitudes and clichés that may ring hollow. Instead, speak from the heart and offer sincere words of support and encouragement.
  • Take care of yourself: Supporting a person with cancer can be emotionally taxing. Remember to prioritize your own well-being and seek support when you need it. By taking proper care of yourself, you’ll be better able to support the person you love over time.
  • Listen: Sometimes, the most encouraging action you can take is to lend an empathetic ear. Allow them to share their fears, frustrations, and hopes without judgment or interruption.
  • Offer practical support: Take initiative in offering specific ways you can help, whether it is running errands, preparing meals, or providing transportation to appointments. These small acts of kindness can make a big difference in their day-to-day life.

In conjunction with these tips, it is important to understand that every individual’s experience with cancer is different, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Empathy and flexibility are key when navigating these sensitive conversations.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of simply being there for the person you love. Your presence and support, even if you’re not sure what to say, can provide great comfort in this challenging time. So, take a deep breath, show up, and don’t forget that your love and support mean even more than you may realize.

If you are one of the many families dealing with cancer in the Orange County, CA area, reach out to CareWorks Health Services for help, too. Our caregivers are trained and experienced in supporting people who have cancer and the families who love them with an array of services, including:

  • Running errands, such as trips to market and picking up prescriptions
  • Respectful support with personal care and hygiene, preserving independence and dignity
  • Planning and preparing healthy meals, taking into consideration difficulty with appetite or other challenging symptoms
  • Friendly companionship to brighten every day
  • Light housekeeping, laundry, and linen changes
  • And so much more

Serving Mission Viejo, Seal Beach, Newport Beach, as well as throughout Orange County, we’re just a phone call away at (949) 859-4700 or feel free to contact us online.