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5 Ways to Support Cancer Patients

Guest post by cancer survivor Elise Silverfield May “I am a two-time cancer survivor and am determined not to let my illnesses define me.  My greatest joy is being a mom to my amazing teenage son.” 

When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, our tendency is to jump into “helper” mode. Since we can’t actually fight cancer for our friend, we want to do the next best thing: make their fight easier.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to be on both sides of this situation, as a cancer patient and a helper, and it’s given me a wonderful perspective. I know what was helpful to me, and those are the things I try to do for others. While there are numerous ways to help cancer patients, below are my suggestions for cancer support:

  • An organizational calendar—If you are planning meals for a cancer patient, give them a calendar detailing which days meals will be delivered, what the meals will be and who will be bringing them. This lets your friend know what to expect and also makes writing thank you notes easier. lets people go online and indicate which needs they will be helping with such as meals, carpool, etc. Others can check the calendar to avoid duplicating efforts.
  • A countdown chart—When I was first diagnosed, I made a funny chart to put on the fridge. I had circles for every treatment, and a big smiley face after the last one. Each time I finished a treatment, I marked another circle off the chart. It may seem like a small thing, but being able to see my progress really helped. I’ve done the same thing for friends, and they felt the same way. Get as creative or simple as you want. The main thing is to see that progress is being made.
  • Pictures of happy times—Fighting cancer can be draining and depressing. If your friend is in the hospital, make a collage of happy pictures. This is a great reminder that life is good, and there are more happy times ahead.
  • Financial assistance—Very few people will ask for monetary assistance. However, medical bills can add up quickly, even with insurance, and helping financially is one of the best ways to provide cancer patients with cancer support. is a fabulous resource for helping with medical bills and other expenses. It’s easy to set up, and friends can donate any amount they choose. The last thing a cancer patient needs to worry about is the high cost of treatment. Give Forward helps alleviate that concern and lets cancer patients use their energy to fight their illness.
  • Time—If you truly want to help your friend, give your time. Be there if they want to talk, cry, or scream. Offer to drive them to do errands. Help sort the laundry or clean the house. You don’t have to give expensive gifts…your time is an invaluable asset when it comes to cancer support.

Friendship and love are powerful tools and can make all the difference for cancer patients. Your friend became a survivor the day they were diagnosed. Remind them of that, always!

If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll love Elise’s other guest post “How to Help a Friend Fight Cancer” – check it out!

Whose world will you change?