For Friends and Family

What to say, and not to say, to a cancer patient

Posted by Sara Liyanage on 13 August 2021

What to say to someone with breast cancer:

  1. “I am here to support you no matter what.“
  2. “I don’t know what to say.”

10 things not to say to someone with breast cancer:

  1. “If I was in your situation then I would….
  2. ”My aunt/friend/neighbour had breast cancer and then she died.”
  3. “You will be back to normal soon.”
  4. “If you had done X, Y and Z/ not done A, B and C then maybe you would not have got cancer.”
  5. “Eating A, B, C can cure cancer.”
  6. “It’s only hair.”
  7. “But breast cancer is a good one to get.”
  8. “You look well.”
  9. “Sorry I’ve been rubbish and not been in touch” or, “Sorry I haven’t been here for you, but I have had [X/Y/Z] going on in my life and just been so busy“.
  10. “If it was me, I wouldn’t want to be defined by cancer.”

Further information

Breast Cancer Now has a booklet for partners of someone diagnosed with breast cancer which you can download or order here.

Future Dreams hold a range of support groups, classes, workshops and events to help you and your carers during your breast cancer diagnosis. These are held both online and in person at the London-based Future Dreams House. To see what’s on offer and to book your place, see here.

To return to the homepage of our Information Hub, click here where you can access more helpful information, practical advice, personal stories and more.

Reviewed March 2024

We’ve put this list of recommendations together from our experience as patients but we encourage to use these as a starting point from which to do your own research. The links and/or recommendations in this article to third-party resources are for your information and we take no responsibility for the content contained in those third-party resources. Any product recommendations made in this article are not product endorsements and unless otherwise stated, they are made without any affiliation to the brand of that product. We ask you to note that there may be other similar products available.


Sylvie Henry and Danielle Leslie founders of Future Dreams breast cancer support
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Sylvie and Danielle began Future Dreams with just £100 in 2008. They believed nobody should face breast cancer alone.  Their legacy lives on in Future Dreams House.  We couldn’t continue to fund support services for those touched by breast cancer, raise awareness of breast cancer and promote early diagnosis and advance research into secondary breast cancer without your help. Please consider partnering with us or making a donation.

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