Avoid trying to keep things from the patient. Often trying to 'protect' the patient makes their fears even worse. Patients appreciate the opportunity and have a right to make important decisions that affect their lives. Continue to involve the patient in activities you shared and enjoyed in the past. Make specific offers of help that may be easy for the patient to accept, such as a lift or help with heavy bags etc.
It is important to allow the patient to take the lead in talking about issues, so try to be a good listener. Don't feel that it is up to you to make everything better, no matter how much you wish you could. Offer encouragement and convey affection. Try to take time off from talking about the illness. Physical contact and laughter are often excellent ways to help people cope.
Try to involve everyone concerned when dealing with important issues such as family matters. Children also need to have information about what is happening within the family unit or to their parents. Always remember, that even when ill, people are still the same person inside as they were before the problems began.
Family and friends are also affected by a cancer diagnosis; so don't forget to look after yourself too. Be realistic about what you can offer and do. If everyone can do a little, it makes life easier all round.