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Keep up to date with what’s happening at Canopy. We’ll be letting you know if we’ve got a new Canopy TV Episode, blog article or course that you might want to know about. Keep watching for details.

You have cancer; how will other people react?

You have cancer; how will other people react?

You are likely to get a wide range of responses as you start telling family, friends and colleagues about your diagnosis. To help manage the impact their reaction might have on you, it’s worth taking time to understand why people might react in certain ways and develop some strategies that you can use to respond to them.

Let’s start with when people get it wrong. Sometimes well-meaning people say insensitive things; which could be because they simply don’t comprehend what they’re saying or it could be because they’re so upset they have no idea what to say, so they’re ‘filling the silence’. For example, they automatically compare you to someone else they know with cancer, they might question your treatment choice or they might go as far as saying “its not all bad” or “I know how you’re feeling”.

In this case, simply changing the subject might be easier than trying to respond. But if you want to be more direct you could say something like “I know you’re just trying to help but what you’ve just said doesn’t actually help me. What will help me is…”

Lack of experience is a common reason people respond in a certain way. Not everyone has had experience of talking to or supporting someone with cancer so they might avoid talking about it all together or come across as overly positive. This is generally because they are struggling with knowing what to say, how to ask what you need or they might be too embarrassed to ask you if they think they should already know.

One way to deal with this is to acknowledge their feelings and say something like “Don’t worry, you don’t need to say anything and honestly, I have no idea what I’m going to need but when I do know, it’d be great if I could ask you.” Another way is to simply talk about everyday things; going back to small talk can put you both at ease and will give you an opportunity to introduce your cancer in another way.

“My cousins sister had a similar cancer, she was seeing this doctor and had this treatment…”. Cancer affects a lot of people and most people know someone who has had cancer so sharing stories, while not helpful, happens a lot. Some people may share stories with you that you find negative or upsetting; it’s okay to tell them you do not want to hear that kind of story right now.

Miracle cures and unhelpful advice on treatments. People will be keen to help you and in their enthusiasm they might suggest treatments or non-evidence based miracle cures they’ve heard of. The only way to deal with this is to explain that you have a really good medical team who are helping you to make the right treatment choices for your cancer.  

Some of these questions and reactions may make you feel hurt, angry or frustrated. You will need to give your family, friends and colleagues time to adjust to your diagnosis. Some may be supportive from day 1, others may take a little longer, but understanding why people react in certain ways can help you maintain meaningful and supportive relationships as you go through your cancer journey.

My Response to Cancer

My Response to Cancer

How you approach a cancer diagnosis is very different from diagnosis, to treatment to recovery – and that’s okay because there is no right or wrong way to do any part of it.

Some people need to share their journey with friends and family and will even use social media as a tool to help with their story telling.   Others are more private and contained, selecting a very small group to keep around them.

Four cancer survivors share their journey in an episode of Canopy TV – My Response to Cancer.  They all responded to their personal situations very differently and have come together to share their journey with us all. 

Watch the episode now to see what these amazing people have to say.




COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing

COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing

We appreciate that this a very challenging time for everyone.
For those living alone, working from home, wrangling small children while working from home and those on the front line, the effects of COVID-19 can be exhausting, daunting and even a little terrifying.

Over the past few weeks, our staff and patients have been sharing their favourite mindfulness and meditation apps, blogs and websites for dealing with the stress and isolation of COVID-19.

The following is a list of the most popular. The apps are all free so take a moment and have a look.

And for the kids:

Strategies for coping with cancer

Strategies for coping with cancer

The Cancer Society is excited to announce the dates for the Cancer Society’s Webinar Series and Cancer Support Series (previously “Tips and Tools”). 

The sessions are led by their experienced registered psychologists and aim to provide people with a range of strategies to help cope with cancer. 

1. Webinar Series – online talks via Zoom by a Cancer Society Psychologist

When: Fortnightly on Wednesdays 10.00am - 11.30am

Where: Via Zoom meeting (once registered you will receive a link to join)

  • Finding a New Normal - Hear about common difficulties people experience adjusting to life after a cancer diagnosis and treatment and strategies to help you find a “New Normal”.
  • Coping with Emotions and Communication - Learn ways of coping with the impact of a cancer diagnosis and explore strategies for communicating about your cancer.
  • Stress Management and Sleeping Easy - Learn strategies to cope with stress related to a cancer diagnosis and tips and tools for sleeping better.
  • Strategies for Supporters - Supporting someone with cancer? Learn how to cope with the impact of cancer on your life and develop strategies to support your loved one and look after yourself.

**There are limited numbers so please encourage your patients to register by emailing

While these dates are confirmed, they are open to being responsive to the needs of the patients and may add topics and extra webinars if these talks fill up, so email Anna if you have any questions or feedback. 


2. Cancer Support Series – In person talks by a Cancer Society Psychologist

When: Fortnightly on Thursdays 12.30 - 1.30pm

Where: Support Room, Domain Lodge Grafton

  • Sleeping Easy — Learn about why sleep is important and strategies for sleeping better.
  • Finding a New Normal — To help you cope with life after cancer treatment ends and find a new normal.
  • Riding the emotional roller-coaster — Learn how to cope with emotions related to a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Communication and support — Learn how to talk to friends and whānau about your cancer and get the support you need.
  • Strategies for Supporters — Supporting someone with cancer? Learn how to cope with the impact of cancer on your life and develop strategies to support your loved one and look after yourself.