What to say when someone’s been diagnosed with cancer

Whenever anyone is going through something extremely difficult many of us find it hard to know what to say. We don't want to cause offence, we don't want to upset people we care about, we might even worry that it's bad manners to acknowledge the difficult thing itself. However, not to say anything and not to acknowledge what's happening can perpetuate a sense of isolation for those going through hardship - both for them as individuals and their loved ones. So if we want to show support for someone with cancer, but we don’t have the words, what can we do?

Finding the right words to support someone with cancer

Leah Singh, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, said: "One of the less spoken about factors of a cancer journey is the loneliness that may be suffered along the way."

On speaking about his wife's cancer diagnosis and death following lung cancer in 2021, Richard E Grant spoke recently about the need for acknowledgment:

"Don’t ignore the fact that that person is [...] ill [...] because if you ignore it it feels like that person’s life didn’t count or didn’t register."

It can take some degree of bravery to pick up the phone or to say something when you feel awkward, but it can mean the world when you do. That's not to say that we don't all need a little help sometimes to find the right words. However, other people have walked the path that you and your loved one are on, and they too have put a lot of thought into what to say. While everyone is unique, sometimes the borrowed words of others carry the meaning we want to convey.


Help your loved one feel seen
Brave & Beautiful


Let your gift speak volumes

With our Unique Gifting Service and Vegan Unique Gifting Service, we have taken the carefully considered words of those who have supported loved ones through a cancer diagnosis before, so you can add your own message or let the gifts speak for themselves. The messages are heartfelt and meaningful but sensitive and often quoted, ready to choose as you feel befits the person you care for and the relationship you have with them. You can then tailor the choice of products within each gift set to be equally personal.

You’ve got this

You’ve got this is one of the most used phrases to appear in our messages when people buy gifts for loved ones with cancer. It offers dignity and reassurance, but also acknowledges an individual's strength. You will know if you feel this is the right way to support your loved one - it gives the impression of holding someone's hand even when you're not in the room.

Brave and Beautiful

Cancer and cancer treatment can deeply undermine an individual's self-confidence. It can, understandably, cause anxiety and it can lead to changes in appearance. Feeling seen, feeling that strength and beauty is recognised and visible to others, even when you're not feeling it yourself - that can be a powerful way to help individuals take on another day and feel more like themselves.


Acknowledging individual strength
You’ve got this


Bring it On

A message of determined defiance, 'Bring it On' is a popular message when someone has a new cancer diagnosis or is about to start a treatment cycle. We all need someone who can help remind us that we have fight in us sometimes, but at the same time, this message is kind, good humoured and supportive.

& Breathe

This little phrase acknowledges the trauma and shock of a diagnosis, as well as the many demands made when one is undergoing treatment. Cancer and cancer treatment can catapult someone into a busy world of treatments, terminology and experiences that feel like a whirlwind. It can be overwhelming - as though it's swallowing you whole. A deep breath is the most healing, restorative thing we can do for ourselves and it's incredibly simple. This message is a reminder that no matter how fast the world seems to be spinning and no matter how out of control it may be, it's within your power to stop for a moment, & Breathe.

Sent with warmth and love

There's something so beautiful about sending warmth to someone. Whatever your personal belief system, that sense of wishing good things for a person is a beautiful gift to send. Knowing that love and light are being sent to you is a comforting, caring thought that can really make someone feel cared for when they need it most, whether it comes from a dear friend or an unexpectedly thoughtful acquaintance.


Acknowledging trauma
& Breathe


Thinking of you

A simple message to let someone you care about know they're in your thoughts. This can often seem like a very small gesture unless you've been on the inside of a traumatic situation, but it conveys enormous empathy. Recognising that there's little you can do other than be there, the power of holding someone in your thoughts reminds them that they are not alone, they are not forgotten and that people are rooting for them.

Your thoughts really do count following a cancer diagnosis

Many of us feel compelled to send messages of support to those around us when they are experiencing a challenging time. They might be a family member or a dear friend, but they might also be someone you know less well - a colleague or a more peripheral friend who you feel empathy for.

Support can come from the most unlikely places when we experience a cancer diagnosis or any form of hardship. While we might worry that by reaching out we are interfering or risk saying the wrong thing, for those on the receiving end, your expression of thought and kindness really does count.


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