Sometime you may wonder what exactly is going through the mind of a patient. How can I know what they need from what they are thinking? Here are some key thoughts that some patients may have.


What Are Patients Thinking

Don't avoid me. Be the friend or loved one you have always been. Treat me as you always have; I am the same person now as before I became ill.


A lot of people tend to make the mistake of acting differently towards the patient once they have cancer. Do not do this. You can be more sensitive and cautious, but treat them as they want to be treated; normally.

Call me to tell me you're bringing my favorite dish. Bring food in disposable containers, so I won't have to worry about returns.


This is an underrated act of kindness, but had a tremendous effect on the patient’s spirit.

Call me before you visit, but don't be afraid to visit. I am often lonely.


Always let them know before you come, do not make any surprise visits. Sometimes they may not have the strength of be in the mood for visitors, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to see them.

Help my family. I am sick, but they may be suffering.


This is seen in all patients. When they are not worrying about their cancer, they are thinking of their family. Having a family member with cancer changes the whole family dynamic, and they will need support.

Don't tell me not to worry.


Patients are sick of hearing this. This statement does nothing to help. They will worry, it is inevitable, and telling them not to will irritate them.

Bring me a positive attitude. It's catching!


Never come in with a bad mood. Even if you had a terrible day. Remember who it is you are visiting, the focus should be on them, not you. Always be happy and cheery.

I might not live to see my children get married,

If I die.


If patients pose this thought, stay positive and talk positively to them. This may be a very difficult conversation for a visitor to hear. Do not shy away from this though, this is when the patient may need you the most.

Start regretting, of what could have been, what they should have done in the past.



Try your best to just listen, and then put helpful input. If you do not feel you have anything helpful to say then just listen.

What will happen to my children after I die? How will this affect their lives? Who will my spouse remarry? Will they treat my children right?



Patients may bluntly ask this question. Always answer positively, and be cautious with your words. Never be negative.

Can my disease be cured? What are the best treatment options? Will treatment hurt? How long will treatment take? How much will it cost?



All patients have these thoughts. The best move is to wait for the doctors to answer these questions. They know, you don’t. What you say may be wrong and harmful.

Very paranoid about their cancer, always thinking it may come back even if cured.

(book 46)


This is a thought in survivors. Make them see that life is normal now, act normally, laugh, and get this off their mind.

I may snap at you, I may say things I don’t mean, but please forgive me in advance, for I may be overly sensitive at times ( book 40)


This should be a standard for everyone. Do NOT get mad or annoyed at any patient. Now is not the time for them to worry about being in fights with anyone. Let things slide. Be forgiving.

I need to laugh and forget my cancer (book 168)


Laughter can help. This is no myth. Patients need to feel happy and joyous. Need to feel normal. Laughter can do the trick.


Sources (1) (2) (3)

“Help Me Live” (book)