How To Support Someone With Cancer

Hearing that a friend or family member has been diagnosed with cancer can be scary. It brings a lot of emotion along with it – fear, anger, sadness, and worry. All very big feelings to deal with.

The thing with Cancer is that it can mean many things. It is a general term that covers a lot of different scenarios and conditions.  Despite the connotations, the diagnosis does not always have to have a negative outcome.

Part of the problem with a cancer diagnosis is the unknown. If your own feelings are leaving you this confused, imagine how the person that has received the diagnosis feels.

They are going to need your support, and this is how you can support someone with cancer.

How To Support Someone With Cancer

Realising Their Needs

Support comes in many forms and will not be the same for everyone. For some, it means emotional support, but for others, it will mean physical or practical support.

Instead of assuming your loved one will want to have a deep and meaningful discussion about their place in the world, they might simply need a ride home from the hospital. You need to take your lead from the person you are supporting as to what they actually need from you.

Don’t Assume The Worst

People can and do recover from cancer every day, so don’t automatically assume the worst when you hear their news. Your friend or family member will already be dealing with a lot medically and emotionally, and they do not need your panic and negativity on top of it all.

Even if the diagnosis is not a positive one, your loved one will not want to process it under a cloud of negativity. Remain positive, but not in a forced over the top way.

Acknowledge The Situation

It is completely fine to admit to your loved one that you don’t know what to say or what the perfect response is. It is better to acknowledge the situation, rather than sweep it under the carpet. Don’t simply pretend that everything is normal because of course, it isn’t.

Listening to a friend over coffee

Remember that the little things make the most difference, so ensure you are really listening if your loved one wants to talk. Simply let them speak and actively listen, you don’t need to offer a solution or opinion in return.

The worst thing you can do is to compare their situation to someone else you know. Even if that person had the same diagnosis, every person will experience different symptoms and strains of the same disease.

Offer To Help

Even if your loved one’s treatment is going well, it will be exhausting for them. The simplest tasks can be hard work. Lighten the load by popping in to empty the dishwasher, scrub the shower, or fold the washing – don’t wait for them to ask you to come. Just make sure you call or message first in case they are resting.

If they have kids, offer to have the children around to your place. Or, organise to take the kids out for the day as the whole situation will be difficult for them also.

You might think that cooking a meal is a big help. But often there are restrictions on the foods that your loved one will be able to eat. Check with them first to make sure you are ticking all of the boxes nutritionally.

Give Thoughtful Gifts

Often people will want to give a gift when bad news is received. But flowers can be dangerous for someone with low immunities and certain perfume scents can be overwhelming when going through treatment.

Thoughtful gifts to support someone with cancer

Stick to thoughtful and practical gifts like books, magazines, crossword puzzles, hobby items, movies or puzzles. These will all be a welcome distraction from long hours of chemotherapy treatments.

You can also give helpful things like a gift certificate for a cleaner to come by and clean the house – it can be less uncomfortable than having a friend come and do the same task.

Give Continual Support

There will be many people to call on when the initial diagnosis is given. But often those offers of help tend to dwindle as time goes on. Your loved one will need support throughout the whole journey which can stretch on for months or years.

The support required will, of course, depend on the person. Understand the personality and needs of your loved one, how regularly they might need you and when they might need time out.

The whole objective is to help, not to overwhelm.

Be Mindful Of Yourself

time out with a herbal tea

Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. While playing the role of support person is incredibly important, you need to make sure it is not draining you at the same time – both emotionally and financially. Keep an eye on your own wellbeing and bank balance. You will be no good to your loved one if you are exhausted.

Supporting From Afar

Sometimes you can’t always be by the side of your loved one as they go through this. But you can still provide practical support from afar.

One of the biggest challenges can be getting to hospital appointments or even arranging childcare for their children. But with, you can take the stress and hassle out of that for your loved one.

When your loved one is a member of’s practical support platform, they can receive their own personal prepaid card which you can donate funds onto so they can access professional services such as transport and childcare. As a charity, we ensure that 100% of your funds are received by your loved one so they can get the help they need when you can’t be there in person.

Check out our website here, for a truly helpful way to support your loved one (or anyone else) during this difficult journey.


One thought on “How To Support Someone With Cancer

  1. Thanks for highlighting our creative gifts and gestures at – Let us know if you have any other thoughts or questions. Sending lots of love and healing vibes to all.

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