Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer


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Studies show cancer survivors who receive strong emotional support adjust better to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and experience a higher quality of life as a result. In the upsurge, friendships can support a cancer patient, according to research. It is possible to make a big difference in the life of a cancer patient.

Cancer patients and their families, friends, and coworkers all have to deal with a variety of emotions. Many times in your empathy, you cannot find the right words or actions to support a cancer patient during these difficult times. Depending on your friendship with the patient, it’s important to keep your words simple yet, thoughtful. 

 Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer
Image source: Freepik

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14 Ways To Support A Cancer Patient During Cancer Treatment

There are many ways you can support a cancer patient or offer family support for a cancer patient.  Here’s how to help someone during cancer treatment. 

Prepare Your Thoughts and Response

When a friend or family you hung out with the week before is suddenly diagnosed with cancer, you’re likely to feel a lot of emotions such as fear and sadness. It’s always wise to pause and reflect on your emotions, managing them before you seek to talk to your friend or loved ones. This way, you can fully support a cancer patient with your full attention, as needed.

Ask to Visit

As much as caring is concerned, a cancer diagnosis can render individuals new perspectives. They would want to be left alone, understandably. Thus, before visiting, giving advice, and asking questions about their diagnosis, ask if it is welcome. Support a cancer patient by letting them know saying no is perfectly okay. 

Consider visiting during times other than weekends or holidays, when others may be visiting. During and after your visit, don’t forget to touch, hug, or handshake.

Accept Their Responses

Your loved one may not want to talk about the details of their diagnosis for many reasons. When you have to repeat the same information to many people, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting for different people. If possible, talk to their spouse or a mutual friend who may be able to give you the basics. If there is information that is unknown or not shared, it’s okay not to push for more.

 Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer
Image source: Freepik 


Do a little research online at credible websites to learn more about the specific treatment, side effects, and recovery, so you can have a better idea of what your loved one will be going through. This way, you can spare cancer patients little talks about their diagnosis that they’re not fully comfortable talking about.

People Also Read: 9 Black Health Organizations Improving Health Care Access and Outcomes

Embrace the Changes

Fatigue, weight loss, and hair loss are common side effects of cancer and many cancer treatments. It’s best to comment on how glad you’re to see your loved one than commenting on any physical changes you see.

Try not to let your loved one’s cancer get in the way of your friendship. As much as possible, treat them the same as you always have.

Make Flexible Plans

One sure way to support a cancer patient is to make plans that involve them. This way, they have something to live up to. Moreover, be considerate and ready to make the plan flexible so you can adjust in the future. The effects of cancer can be unpredictable, coupled with long-term treatments that can be exhausting.

Be Humorous

Sometimes, a little laughter could be all the support a cancer patient needs. Consequently, make efforts to laugh together when appropriate. A little joke, a funny memory you share, a comedy video or fun podcasts are all channels you can incorporate. 

Give Room for Sadness

Whenever uncomfortable feelings or topics arise, do not ignore them. You may not be able to fix it, but you can provide comfort by just holding space with them. 

 Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer
Image source: Freepik

Send a Text Message

Sometimes, a text message could fill some space. Your loved one diagnosed with cancer may want to be left alone for a while. Respecting their desire, you can send a genuine text message encouraging them in their fight.  They’ll likely reply when they feel up to it.

Offer to Help

You can offer to help your loved one diagnosed with cancer. This help can come in the form of childcare, shopping for groceries, caring for the lawn, preparing lunch, picking up their kids from school, or showing up when their parents couldn’t and walking their pets. Let your loved one know you’ll be there for them with your time, and they can count on you for support. Make sure you follow through on any commitment you make to help them.

Adjust Conversations

Keep conversations about topics unrelated to cancer to a minimum. It is a good idea to be prepared to discuss something other than cancer with them. There are times when people who are having treatment need a break from talking about it.

 Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer
Image source: Freepik

Form a Support Network

Friends and family who are mutually supportive can form a support network to assist a cancer patient this black history month. Organizing activities among family and friends is easier with a shared online calendar. In addition to using a calendar, you can write various activities and commitments by hand on paper. It’s cardinal that your loved one has access to the calendar so that they know what to expect.


Often, what a cancer patient need is a listening ear. Do not feel that you must always respond. Instead, listen without feeling obligated to respond. To avoid making your friend feel overwhelmed or guilty about not being able to participate in the conversation, tailor the discourse to their level of attention. Whether it’s sports, religion, travel, or pets, assist your friend in focusing on what makes them happy.

People Also Read: Black Health Disparities Run Deep – Here Are Some Statistics


Offer to pray alongside your loved ones if they believe in a higher power. According to God’s Word, keep your prayer simple and straightforward. Through prayer, one might feel closer to God and experience his loving presence. Through prayer, you will also feel good emotions like compassion, forgiveness, and hope.

You can also request to share and talk about a specific passage of scripture.

 Here’s How To Support a Friend With Cancer
Image source: Freepik

What to Say to Support a Cancer Patient

Here are some things you can say to help show your care and support:

  • I care about you.
  • I’m thinking about you.
  • I’m sorry this has happened to you.
  • If you ever feel like talking, I am here to listen.
  • What are you thinking of doing, and how can I help?

What Not to Say to a Cancer Patient

Here are examples of phrases you should avoid saying. Although your intention may be pure, saying these phrases may not be helpful to your loved one. 

  • Don’t worry.
  • I’m sure you’ll be fine.
  • I know you’ll fight this.
  • How long do you have?
  • I know just how you feel.
  • I know just what you should do.
  • “I can imagine how you must feel,” because you really can’t

Gift Ideas To Support a Cancer Patient

When choosing a present for a loved one who has cancer, examine how their typical day is and what can make it a little more bearable. Depending on what your friend is most in need of at the time, keep gifts intriguing, amusing, serious, or light.

Make sure your gifts can be immediately put to use. Smaller, more frequent gifts are usually preferable to larger, occasional ones.

Some ideas include:

  • Audiobooks
  • Funny movies
  • A movie ticket
  • Soft or silly socks
  • Pictures of friends
  • Fun hats or scarves
  • Journal or notebook
  • Unusual toiletries, such as soap and lotion
  • A video message from family and friends
  • A massage device or gift certificates for a massage, spa services
  • A CD or download of your friend’s favourite soothing music or nature sounds

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Sedi Djentuh
Sedi Djentuh
Hey, Sedi here, a content writer. She's fascinated by the interplay between people, lifestyle, relationships, tech and communication dedicated to empowering and spreading positive messages about humanity. She's an avid reader and a student of personal weekly workouts. When she's not writing, Sedi is busy advocating for plastic-free earth with her local NGO.


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