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How do I support a friend with cancer?

20 Feb 2018 16:21

Hello all,

I wanted to share this article with you to see what you think: it asks what’s the best way to support a friend with cancer?

We’re all different in terms of how we cope with a cancer diagnosis, and it’s interesting to read how Sarah, in this article, talks about the ways she wished to be supported:

“People just finding the time to show they cared was probably the single most important thing for me.”

Did friends know what to say or do when you heard you had cancer? Did some shy away from talking to you? What advice would you give to someone wondering how best to support a friend with cancer?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Cancer Chat moderator

How do I support a friend with cancer?

2 Apr 2018 10:36 in response to Moderator Helen

I think the most important thing is to let them know that you are thinking of them , a daily text , a funny email, a few magazines left on the doorstep, random acts of kindness. A cooked diner delivered for the carer!  Talking to them normally! It's those people that help get you through x

How do I support a friend with cancer?

2 Apr 2018 10:41 in response to gilliebean

I agree with all of what gilliebean says. Being spoken to as a normal person and not some one with cancer helped as well. A friend left me a bunch of flowers, just on the door step with a little note saying thinking of you. That meant a lot. 

How do I support a friend with cancer?

2 Apr 2018 11:29 in response to Moderator Helen

Hi...when I was diagnosed, and having weekly chemo, I was 35 then with 4 children ages 3-11, now I am 63. I can tell you what not to do and things others did that I enjoyed...don't ask what you can to for them "unless" you mean it. I took people up on it after I became weak from the weekly chemo, I had quick simple tasks but no one wanted to really do it...picking up milk or run the vacuum etc. Also do not tell the one going through cancer that your relative had their kind of cancer and they just died. That is not encouraging. DO send a card, or a gift card to a pizzeria or restaurant,. Yes flowers cheer up a home, Call them once in awhile, I loved taking walks so go for a walk with them have a listening ear, if they have children give a gift basket filled with fruit, maybe a clean funny movie, toys etc. If a woman is going through cancer....give a gift basket with sweet smelling soaps, journal, pen, snacks. These are things I enjoyed from others and it picked me up! For a man....crossword puzzles or such, green tea, or coffee, funny joke book, snacks, my husband was just diagnosed and our daughter bought him Duck Dynasty devotional book and he is enjoying that and he never enjoyed bible devotions before. Hope this helped you get your creative juices flowing

How do I support a friend with cancer?

2 Apr 2018 11:34 in response to rileyroo

Hi everyone,

This is an intersting point Helen and thanks for bringing it up.

I have known a few cases where people I know have seemed to think cancer only affects the patient. In my experiance, it's like a spiders web for it affect the whole of the family and also friends as well. In my own experiance, it is often harder for the families and friends, for they are trying to appear positive for the patients sake while inwardly not knowing how to cope. And yet they need to find a way to cope for the patients sake. 

Then there are those people who seem only to think of themselves and who often tend to ignore the problems the patient faces. I once had to gently remind someone that it wasnt them that was facing having cancer and suggested they try to imagine how the patient must have been feeling. 

It is very difficult to know how to react (what to say or do) but I find most people like to keep a certain amount of normality in their lives otherwise they feel cancer has completely taken over their lives. At times the patient will need time to be alone with their thoughts while at the same time knowing there is someone there if they want to open up about their fears and feelings.

Some people like me are open and honest about their feelings while other patients dont want to talk about their feelings at all. This make be their way of coping but it does make it much harder for their loved ones for they dont know how to help and feel isolated. 

I guess its often a case of trying to judge how the patient wants us to react and hope we get it right most of the time in what is a difficult time for everyone concerned, Brian