Understanding Cancer

Updated: Feb 23




Not many of us are prepared for a Cancer Diagnosis. Whether it’s ourselves, your wife, husband, child, relative, friend or colleague. We aren’t taught this in schools, universities don’t offer any degrees of understanding, and our workplace will rarely have any counselling services on how to react. How we should feel, what you should and shouldn’t ask and more importantly what support is needed.


There will be lots of questions, mixed in with the shock and grief of the confirmation that an alien has invaded parts of your body.


What type of cancer, where is it, what can they do, what stage is it, can it be treated, or the question none of us want to ask or answer? How long have you got?


If you are the one diagnosed you will probably want to ask these questions for yourself and your family, whilst swimming in a fog of confusion and disbelief.


Unfortunately, Cancer will affect half of us personally and the other half of us will have someone close to us touched by Cancer.

For those of us diagnosed with Cancer, life changes and will never be the same again. It is a physical struggle to fight cancer and the impact on our mental health is just beginning to be understood. We know that cancer doesn’t come alone and trying to understand what people are going through is incredibly challenging.


There is no right and wrong question or answer when trying to understand someone’s Cancer. You may be frightened to ask any questions, for fear of the answer, or not knowing what to say in response, or what to do. Cancer is scary and we tend to shut away and avoid the scary things in life, it’s a natural reaction. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling awkward, or for those prolonged silences and not knowing where to look. There isn’t a guide to supporting someone with Cancer but understanding how people feel is a start.


Be prepared for them to share what they feel comfortable with and try not to probe to deeply into what the future looks like, as we don’t know.

The key to understanding is to be there for us when we want to share or need your support. We know you don’t have the answers and we’re not looking for them from you. Just send that text, message, call us, send a card, or pop round for a cup of tea.



We understand it’s difficult for you too, and that’s OK.




-The YU team

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