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7 Things To Do When Your Friend Has Cancer

Posted by Arona Martin on
7 Things To Do When Your Friend Has Cancer
7 Ways To Love On Your Friend With Cancer
Supporting a friend or loved one with cancer is something that you probably never planned for. It's hard to process, but super important to always show them that you love them no matter where they are in their diagnosis. As a 3-time cancer supporter of close friends, I try to keep a running list of ways to help and show love. 
After starting BECAUSE LOVE, I now get a ton of emails asking: “What do I say? What do I do?” A couple people have even said, “I want to call and find out what's going on, should I?” In the beginning, calls can be hard because you’re telling the story over and over again. A note, an email, or a physical card work a little better because they can be read anytime. In reality, if you’re asking yourself whether you should call, chances are you’re not in the inner circle of folks who can or even should. (A little truth talking here!)
Just know that cancer is not about you. I have seen plenty of good people, do really great things, and when the response isn’t what they expected, they feel slighted or snubbed. PLEASE, if someone in your life has cancer, just make it about them. What they want. What they need. Even if it is constantly changing – emotions are like that. Some people want inappropriate humor, or flowers, or not flowers, or crafts, or meals with no spinach, or a bottle of wine!

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Here are 7 of my fave things to do when your friend has cancer:
  1. Consistently Check-in. Set up a reminder on your phone to check in with a quick hello or offer of support on a consistent basis. This is more caring and helpful than you may think! Life gets busy and we often can't see outside our own craziness. An alert on your calendar is the nice reminder to check in on your loved one! But please don't expect a text back... Just tell them you love them, and be on with your day!
  2. LOL. Be hilarious with your friend. Laughing out loud can really brighten the spirits. Maybe even watch your favorite stand-up comedian on Netflix together, or YouTube those ridiculous cat and cucumber videos!
  3. Be Proactive. Know that your friend is likely too distracted by cancer to ask for what they need. Be proactive by offering specifics, instead of saying, "If there is anything I can do for you, let me know," how about suggest something like "can I come over later and bring you a smoothie?"
  4. Keep it Homey, Homie! Help them out with things at home. Cleaning, cooking, feeding their dog, etc. (Or if you are like me and hate to clean, send over a cleaning lady!).
  5. Pay for Parking. Purchase a monthly parking pass for your friend's family when they have a prolonged hospitalization -- hospital parking gets expensive, so help them out!
  6. Play Dates (if they have kids). If your friend has kids, love on them! Take them for fro-yo, to a park, or to the movies. Your friend will enjoy seeing you love on their kids while also appreciating the quiet time.
  7. Gift A Journal. For a cancer patient, journaling can help relieve stress, clarify thoughts, and it encourages people to focus on the positives in life. I have the perfect interactive art therapy journal for you to gift, click here. You can also read my blog that dives deeper into journaling through cancer, here.
    Love Heals cancer Journal
Have any other go-to ideas that you love? I like to keep an ongoing list jotted down in a notebook, and them cross them off as I do them. I’d love to add to it. Give me your best love on your friends ideas below!



Big Hug Lap Blanket with tagsLove Heals Journal

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  • Jennifer on

    One gift I think is great is photography. My friend offered photos before losing my hair and also gently offered what she called journey photos.

  • Paula on

    I have a friend who comes up with great suggestions such as creating a WhatsApp group so they can communicate with each other when they are going to visit me and also set up a roster for things like housework for me, bringing meals. She never followed through with it. I reminded her a few weeks ago about it and still nothing so I gave up on expecting it to happen.

    I was so disappointed and depressed, but my lovely son stepped up and helped me.

    My friends visit sporadically and I get asked what do I need, etc. I would be happy if they were proactive like bringing food, offering to help with housework etc.

    I was diagnosed in 2018 with breast cancer and it returned in 2021 and has metastasised to my liver and bones. I was very sick and spent a good amount of time in hospital. I have home help now and I use the respite care at the local hospice. I have been proactive this round because I knew what to expect!


  • Jan on

    When I had a mastectomy, a rectangular, softly stuffed pillow was amazing to place under the seatbelt in the car.

  • Christina Fannin on

    I recently had cancer and have always been a very social person. I was devastated that people closest to me had no idea what to do to offer support. Thank you for your extremely thoughtful tips. I found this to be helpful in so many ways.

  • Christina Fannin on

    I recently had cancer and have always been a very social person. I was devastated that people closest to me had no idea what to do to offer support. Thank you for your extremely thoughtful tips. I found this to be helpful in so many ways.

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