Supporting a Loved One with Cancer: What to Say and Do
Cancer is a difficult journey, and supporting a loved one who has been diagnosed can be just as challenging. Words have immense power, and the right words spoken at the right time can work wonders for someone battling cancer. While the physical struggles are usually experienced alone, a few kind words can fill a patient with courage, energy, and positivity to fight the disease. Here, we share different things you can say and do to support a loved one with cancer.
Things you could say to a cancer patient
- “I’m here for you”
Let them know that you are there for them through thick and thin. Saying that you are present and available to listen can provide them with comfort and a sense of relief. Sharing that you are there to listen, offer emotional support, or just take their mind off things helps them feel less alone and isolated. Let them know that you are there for them to talk, cry, or vent their frustrations.
You could also say…
- “I am only a call away if you want to cry, scream, vent, laugh…”
- “I understand that this is a lot to take in right now, and I’m here to listen if you want to talk.”
- “I’m here for you whenever you need to talk.”
- “I’m here to help you find the strength and courage to get through this.”
- “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you, and I’m here to help in any way I can.”
- “I’m sorry you’re going through this”
Show them that you care about their well-being by expressing your sadness and empathy for their situation. Let them know that you are there for them not only in their good times but also in their tough times.
You could also say…
- “I’m so sorry to hear that this happened to you.”
- “I’m thinking of you and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.”
- “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
- “You’re stronger than you think and you’ll get through this”
Encourage them to stay hopeful and optimistic by reminding them that they are strong and they can get through this. Help them recall all the obstacles they have overcome in the past. Inspire them to believe in their ability to heal and recover by learning about how other survivors have managed their cancer experience. Remind them that this too shall pass and things will get better.
You could also say…
- “Let’s celebrate the small victories, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Every step forward is progress.”
- “Take things one day at a time. Some days will be harder than others, but you have the strength to get through them.”
- “Your cancer diagnosis does not define you. You are still the same person with the same dreams and aspirations as before.”
- “Treatment has come a long way, and there are many effective treatments available to help you fight this disease.”
- “Do you want to talk about what you’re feeling?”
Asking open-ended questions can help them express their thoughts and feelings about their cancer journey. This can provide them with a healthy outlet for their emotions and allow you to better understand what they are going through. Encourage them to open up and share their fears and concerns, and let them know that it’s okay to do so.
More ways to ask open-ended questions:
- “Do you want to talk more about what you’re feeling right now?”
- “How are you doing today?” Is there anything specific that’s been on your mind lately?”
- “What are some of the things that are helping you cope with your diagnosis? Are there things that you find particularly helpful?”
- “What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since your diagnosis?
- “You don’t have to be brave all the time; it’s ok to feel scared and overwhelmed.”
- “I’m Here to Help”
Offer to help them in any way you can. Whether it’s running errands, providing transportation to medical appointments, or simply lending an ear to listen, let them know that you are there to help. Showing that you are willing to go the extra mile can help your loved one feel less alone and more supported during their cancer journey. It helps to be specific when offering help as many times patient’s feel so overwhelmed that even answering the simplest question is a challenge. For example, you could say something like, “I can bring meals by every Monday” or “I can baby sit Tuesdays between 4:00pm to 6:00pm.” This accomplishes two things. One they may not realize that you are available to do certain things for them. And two, it takes the stress of having to think about what help they need on the spot.
You could also say…
- “Feel up to doing something fun like going for a walk, watching a movie or playing board games?
- “Is it ok if I check in on you every Friday?
- Do you want me to come with you to your doctor’s appointment? I can help you keep track of notes and information shared by your medical team.
- “If you ever need a break from the stress, get your mind off things, I am here for you.”
Cancer is a difficult and emotionally overwhelming experience, and having a shoulder to lean on can be a source of comfort and support. This can calm and comfort them and even help them open-up about how they are coping. This helps patients feel seen, heard, and understood. And may alleviate feelings of isolation, fear, and anxiety, which are common during cancer treatment.
You could also say…
- “You don’t have to carry this burden alone. I am here for you whenever you need someone to talk to or just to sit with.”
- “You’re not alone in this. We can take some time to do something fun or relaxing to help take your mind off things.”
- “It’s okay to take a break and focus on yourself. I am here to help you take care of yourself and find moments of peace and relaxation.”
- “I can imagine that it’s hard to keep everything together all the time. If you ever need to vent or just have a quiet moment, I am here to provide a listening ear and a comforting presence.”
Words have immense power and the right words spoken at the right time can provide comfort and support to someone dealing with cancer. Being a supportive presence for a cancer patient is a powerful way to help them through their treatment. Whether it’s offering a listening ear, providing practical help, or keeping them company. Your care and compassion can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes the smallest gestures can have the greatest impact.
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We know first hand how hard it is to care for a loved one dealing with an illness! That’s why we created the My CareCrew mobile app. Our free Android and Apple app connect patients and caregivers with their “CareCrew”, to streamline day-to-day challenges experienced during illness. The app makes it easy to ask for help, manage the inflow of help offers from loved ones, share updates, create wishlists, and more!
And we recently launched our mindfulness collection, including everyday products (like sweat shirts, journals, totes…) designed with reminders to breathe, to focus on the here & now, and with words of encouragement – right when you need it the most. They are a big hug for your soul, designed by patients who’ve been through the same challenges as you and found mindfulness techniques to be super effective! We also offer affiliate products curated to meet the needs of patients and caregivers including cancer care packages and gifts for cancer patients.
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