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My friend has CANCER. Now what?

Posted by Arona Martin on
My friend has CANCER. Now what?

14 ideas for what to do if your loved one gets cancer⁣⁣⁣:

It’s so hard to know what to do or say when a loved one hears those terrible words. We all know we want to help, but knowing what to do or say can be scary. As a 3-time cancer supporter (my best friend, my boyfriend, and recently another close friend), I am always trying to come up with 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 said, “I want to call. 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 well 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 should.

(Not being harsh, just being real.)

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. 

I’ve compiled a list of 14 ideas for things you could do:

(All have been tried and tested on real cancer fighters!)

  1. Tell them you love and care about them in a text. Even if they don't have the energy to respond, your message means a lot. I usually end my texts with “No need to respond, I love you."
  2. Send a card. Isn’t snail mail the best?  Make sure the writing is big and legible -- cancer eyes are tired eyes.  :-) Or EVEN BETTER, fill out and send this beautiful art therapy journal for cancer fighters. 
  3. Give a Ride. Gift an Uber or Lyft gift certificate if you're not available to offer a ride. I'm a huge fan of Uber.
  4. Take initiative. Understand that a cancer patient is likely too overwhelmed to ask for what they need. Take initiative by offering specifics, instead of saying, "Let me know IF there's anything I can do for you.”
  5. Introduce Happy. Ask what makes them happy, then find little ways during treatment to introduce happy. BE CREATIVE! You could even try gifting them this
  6. Share Laughs. Say wildly inappropriate things to make them laugh.
  7. Be flexible! Sometimes cancer fighters cancel plans at the last minute. Be understanding and compassionate.
  8. Housework. Do some of their housework (Or if you are like me and hate to clean, send over a cleaning lady!).
  9. If they have children, love on them! Take them for ice cream, a movie, or the park. Your friend will enjoy seeing you love on their kids while also appreciating the quiet time. Have their kids each decorate a tag for a Big Hug Lap Blanket and gift it to her. She would love the thoughtfulness and warmness of it!                                                 
    Blanket tags
  10. Bring a home cooked meal. Send Grubhub (if you have it in your area). Order from their favorite restaurant and have it delivered. Do check on any dietary restrictions before you do this. Also, don’t expect to eat it with them. Sometimes dropping food off is better--a cooler left outside the front door is perfect for this!
  11. Parking Passes. Buy a monthly parking pass for family members when the patient has a prolonged hospitalization -- hospital parking gets expensive!
  12. Check in regularly. Set a calendar alert reminding you to check in with a quick hello or offer of help on a regular basis. This is such a help! When life gets crazy, we often sink into our own mess, and the calendar alarm is a nice reminder to check in on a friend!
  13. Store Runs. Send a text when you are at the drugstore asking if they need a prescription picked up or need any toiletries! Please make sure they are NON-TOXIC.
  14. Tell cancer to F* OFF! LOUDLY. 

Have any other got-to ideas that you love? I keep an ongoing list jotted down in a notebook. I’d love to add to it. Please tell me about them below!  



P.S. Are you a supporter of a loved one with cancer? Join my private support community HERE.


Big Hug Lap Blanket with tagsLove Heals Journal

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  • Mona-Marie on


  • Carrie on
    Being a patient of breast cancer myself right now, I would like to suggest some of the most wonderful gifts I received during this time. The one I have enjoyed the most is getting weekly cards from my family and friends and people I don’t even know. Those cards were sent to me through my friends and families churches and their families and friends. It was so nice to hear from others that didn’t even know me about something they may be going through or somebody they know that went through cancer as well. I love getting flowers but they never lasted very long, a plant is much nicer. Care package gifts, for example a book, lotions, a notebook and pen to write your journey in, Peppermint candies for nausea, candles and bath salts to relax in after chemos and anything else you can think that may help them during this difficult time. And the last one is getting pictures from family and friends of things they’ve been doing and having fun with others while you’ve been away. Trust me it brings a lot of joy and cheer to someone that can’t be there With you and your time I need you to miles apart being in the way.

    It makes you feel as if you’re there with them and they are celebrating on behalf of you. I hope this suggestions help? I know all of these things have made me feel very blessed, needed and loved.

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