A persons approach to illness will depend on their personality and how they usually react when under stress. Illness can be a constant daily stress in the background that gnaws away, yet some people appear to cope with their lot and remain cheerful. Some even radiating and empowering others with a hidden energy
This is often the initial reaction, which relates more to the shock of the situation. The mind closes down and can only focus on the key words such as cancer or chemotherapy. The person can appear accepting and agree, but they are struggling to come to terms with the situation.
A passive approach to illness can also help with the decision making when faced by complex choices outside the usual range of experience. Saying “its up to you doctor, you are the expert” can be a valid approach
The stress of illness can spill over into forceful or aggressive behaviour towards the care. An internal anger at the situation spilling out in curt words, aggressive body language or frank anger over minor issues. It helps if the caregiver and ideally the person themselves can see what is happening and understand why.
Some people react to the situation they are in by going into an overdrive state. They may take all aspects of life at a faster pace and take on more as a diversion. For some this can be a crusade directly against the illness or searching for a cure at all costs
Many people go into a state of denial to cope with the situation.
The debate then is whether to collude with this or to check that person is informed of the situation fully. Asking the person or doctor who knows them best may help clarify the preferred approach.
Some people are in active denial and will not take on board the situation whatever you say. Some are trying to protect family and friends from having to discuss the situation. Some are blocking the topic to save them the pain of discussing it again. Some genuinely want to set the problems on one side and get on with their life.