an image of a woman sitting on a couch who has cancer with text reading 8 Ways to Support Someone with Cancer

How to Support Someone with Cancer

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Cancer is a hard topic and people are searching for the following questions on google. How to support someone with cancer?

  1. What are some comforting words for someone with cancer?
  2. What are some words of encouragement for someone with cancer?
  3. What to say to someone with cancer?
  4. What are some thoughtful gifts for someone with cancer?

This list goes on and on.

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I currently work in the Oncology field full-time and I see first hand the devastating effects Cancer does to not only the patient but the family as well.

I want to be honest with you when I say my job is both challenging and rewarding. When someone you love has Cancer witnessing what Chemotherapy does to their body and spirit is heartbreaking.


an image of a woman sitting on a couch who has cancer with text how to support someone with cancer in 8 ways

I’m very Blessed and Thankful to play a small role in treating the individual, and the disease.

To be honest, when I first started working in Oncology I was second-guessing that decision.

I had no clue whatsoever what I signed up for or how to support them. However, I learned quickly.

How to Support Someone with Cancer

Over the years I have learned the best ways on how to support someone with cancer. I personally make my lab space bright, inviting, homey, and peaceful.

However, the most important thing to remember when someone you love has Cancer is displaying the love of Christ to them in genuine love.

I’m extremely privileged my office allows me to surround my area in encouraging scriptures, faith, and the gospel. Let’s dive in, shall we?

1: Be Present

Let your loved ones know they aren’t going through the treatment process alone and you’ll be there for them.

Countless patients come to their appointments by themselves where I work simply because they have no one or don’t want to be a burden.

In other words, they go through this experience by themselves.

Here they are can barely hold their heads up yet whatever the case may be no one is with them and it should NOT be that way.

That being said they will display numerous emotions and it’s not a one size fits all case.

8 Emotional Side Effects of Cancer You Need to Be Aware of to Offer Support

If you want to know how to support someone with cancer be aware of the following moods. Cancer patients can feel any of these or all of them at the same time.

  1. Frightened
  2. Angry
  3. Denial
  4. Bitter
  5. Overwhelmed
  6. Confused
  7. Depression

Please, make it a priority to be there for the individual. Make some kind of arrangement so they don’t go through it alone.

2: Cheer Them Up

Knowing how to encourage someone with cancer and keeping a positive attitude around them helps them stay motivated.

Showing compassion and understanding will go a long way when cheering up any individual, especially in Oncology.

Love and Compassion go a long way when offer support to someone with cancer. Click To Tweet

What better example can You and I demonstrate to our loved ones than the never-ending love that Jesus Christ has shown to us?

God showed his compassion towards us while we were yet Sinners far from him when he sent his one and only Son on our behalf.

I can not stress enough the best way on how to support someone with cancer, in general, is to follow Christ’s example of compassion.

They’re going through a life-altering experience so Please take their feelings into consideration and do your best to cheer them up.

3: Be supportive during the side effects

When your loved one is receiving Chemotherapy the side effects and physical changes are brutal to their bodies and immune system. It’s so crucial to remind them daily…You are NOT less than and are beautiful to me!

I’ve listed a few side effects below so you’ll know how to support someone with cancer when they’re experiencing these side effects from treatments.

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Hair Loss
  3. Loss of Appetite
  4. Changes with their bodies, such as a Mastectomy or Colostomy.
  5. Nausea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Dry Mouth and Sores
  8. Chemo Brain (Memory Loss) I’m not being Cruel by stating it this way it’s seriously what it’s called

Out of ALL these examples, the most common a patient fears the most is losing their hair. Believe it or not but that’s the truth.

I tell them all the time hair or no hair you are still beautiful. They truly need to hear that.

Losing their breasts is a close second. It’s sad to witness them feeling backward and ashamed in this area.

One side note that you need to be aware of is you can NOT use the arm of the breast that was removed due to a chance of Lymphedema.

How to Support Someone with Cancer: Believe Them When they tell you Something

When someone you love has Cancer states they’re cold all the time: that’s expected. What do you need to do?

Two Words!

Believe Them!

They’re not saying the words just to be saying them. I have done venipuncture’s when the individual is trembling so badly that you must anchor their arm down tightly and ask someone to assist.

Staying cold is common for Cancer patients. It’s one of the numerous side effects. At my office, we keep warm blankets for them to use for that very reason. By the way, cold fingers do not bleed well.

5: Be Flexible for Treatment Options: Immunotherapy may be offered

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight off diseases such as Cancer and more.

It stimulates their immune system’s proteins to boost their blood counts up which is very important when receiving Chemotherapy.

6: How to Support Someone with Cancer: Suggest a support group

I realize how difficult this step can be not just for the individual but for the family members as well.

That being said, when you’re surrounded by other people who “get it” and can “relate” on a similar level in the area you’re dealing with, you can make a HUGE difference.

7: How to Support Someone with Cancer: Make Them Aware of FREE RESOURCES

Sadly the struggles of finances when it comes to treatment in Oncology are astronomical. It’s so heartbreaking when the patient explains how they’re forced to choose between their basic needs and/or Chemotherapy Regimens.

I’d give anything if I were financially able to help ALL of them but that isn’t being realistic…it’s impossible!

In our office alone, we see roughly 200 per day and Yes I’m being deadly serious with that estimation.

I had no clue there were so many people who have this awful disease until I got into this field.

However, that being said there are numerous organizations available that can help and I suggest you searching your local areas to find the ones near you.

8: HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH CANCER: Offer Your Time Sacrificially

The simplest way how to support someone with cancer is to show someone you care about them do not have to be pricey. As a matter of fact, they can be FREE. Such as…

Gifts for Someone with Cancer

  1. Drive them to their appointments and take notes for them. Chemo brain is real and they forget rather easily.
  2. Cook a meal and take it to them.
  3. Do Housecleaning chores because the individual stays tired.
  4. Give family members and caregivers a break for a short while because it can be emotionally draining for them too.
  5. Stay positive, keep them motivated, and laughter is the key.

My Personal thought when someone you love has Cancer is to consistently find a way to point them where they can hope, strength, inspiration, comfort, and rest for their peace of mind and soul…God!

In my opinion, the best verse is below when your loved one gets down and discouraged.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

When Someone You Love has Cancer I often question Why Does God Allow Pain?

I must admit I don’t always understand what God’s purpose and plans are for allowing certain circumstances in our lives, but I know I can trust God has a reason for all things. 

I have a post In Loving Memory of one very special patient I’d love for you to check out titled Treasured Memories. Cherish every moment Friends.

Oncology shows you both the good and challenging times working with cancer patients but it also changes your outlook on life.

These amazing people keep my life on the “eternal perspective” not the “here and now” outlook with my own health journey. I’m forever grateful for that!

How to Support Someone With Cancer: Pray for Them

I’m grateful to God that he opened this opportunity for me to work with these AMAZING people.

It has shown me even though I have several autoimmune disorders myself…I could have it much worse than I do.

I see this on a daily basis and I’m forever thankful for that. With this in mind, I can say God’s got this and it’s going to be ok!

One final thought…take your Prayer before the Throne of God on bended knee on your loved one’s behalf. You can NEVER Pray too much for someone.

much love, your sister in Christ, Angie

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  1. We had to face a lot of these issues many years ago when my Mom battled breast cancer. I remember how shocking it was when I would go sit with her while she got her chemo treatments how many people were there alone! It made me so sad, and I wanted to go spend a little time with each one, but I had to hold back and remember I was there for my Mom, and she needed my love and attention at that time. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to watch this every day!
    Thank-you for this great list of ways to support someone you love with cancer! They sure seem spot on to me!

    1. Thank You so much, Cherith for your Support and Encouragement. Yes, it breaks my heart into pieces when the patients arrive and know one is there to support them. They are so determined though and that keeps me going most days with my own health issues. They’re a huge inspiration to me for sure. Glad my list spoke to your heart and soul Sweetie.

  2. This is very helpful. It would be nice to place this information in a brochure to be given to the cancer patient loved ones.
    I believe it would truly educate them and help them to know what to do and expect. Good job!!

    1. Thank You, Denise. My office supplies many brochures to give the patients. I also give them my card for my website to offer them encouragement. I appreciate your feedback very much and the compliments

  3. When someone you love has cancer it can be hard to know how to support and help them. Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us. My grandmother had cancer many years ago, my dad moved in with her to support her and drive her to her appointments so that she wouldn’t be alone.

    1. You are more than welcome. I’m gonna keep sharing posts of this topic for sure. So sorry about your grandmother but I know she appreciated your dad moving in to help her. Thanks for reaching out to me. I appreciate it.

  4. What a great reminder for how to love people in our lives who have a cancer diagnosis. I’ve also been reading a lot about the idea of toxic positivity. Like when someone says they’re in pain, we often counter with something trite like “this too shall pass” or “keep your head up,” which is not at all helpful or supportive. I think we should do a better job of acknowledging and validating.

    1. Thank you so much, Erin. They need our support and positivity for sure. I completely agree with the validating

  5. Beautiful words, Angie, on a topic that can be difficult. You give so many ways to be an encouragement and a blessing! I’m a retired nurse, and oncology was a field that broke my heart. I never worked directly with these patients, but these are excellent suggestions! It breaks my heart to know so many come alone to appts. 🙁

    1. Thank you so much, Annmarie. Yes, it can be extremely difficult at times. I’m grateful my employer allows me to have my bay surrounded in scriptures and encouragement. It helps them feel at ease when they walk in. I’m gonna be honest. Some days I cry like a baby and I carry my heart on my sleeve. I work up and close and personal and I get extremely attached. when they don’t make it it’s like losing a family member. Thank you so much for your support

  6. When someone you love has cancer or is facing a tough road, it can be difficult to find words or actions big enough. I love this practical list! Especially your reminder to be present. The ministry of presence is such a gift (for both people)!

  7. When someone you love has cancer or is facing a tough road, it can be difficult to find words or actions big enough. I love this list as it is very practical! Especially your reminder to be present. The ministry of presence is such a gift (for both people)!

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback Rachel. Yes, it’s a VERY tough road and even though I’ve been doing this job for over four years now at times it’s still hard to find the right words. I just Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and he never fails to supply them for me when I fall short in what to say.

  8. Angie in the past two years 3 friends in my circle have had cancer and each time I struggle to know what to do, what to say, how to show them love and practically help them. My fall back is to fix them a meal or one for their family when they are not hungry. These ideas are great and I am going to come back to this as one is still in treatment!

    1. I’ve been working in Oncology for over four years now. Some days I still don’t know what to say, to be honest, Tiffany. I just show them the same love that Christ has shown to me. The main thing to remember is letting your friend know you’ll be there for them in any way they need you. Meals are a great way to do that. I appreciate your feedback and will say a Prayer for your friend too.

  9. When someone you love has cancer, it’s often hard to know what to say or how to act. You’ve taken care of the confusion, Angie. I’m so thankful that you’re there and that you’ve got such a huge heart. Thank you for all you do for your patients.

    1. Wendy when I first started in Oncology it was hard to come up with the right words to say to encourage them and some days it still is. I sincerely hopes it helps others understand better. To be honest I wear my heart on my sleeve and get attached easy but if I can help make a difference in their journey that’s what I want. I appreciate your support so very much

  10. When someone you love has cancer or any chronic illness, it is so important to encourage and support them through their journey. This journey takes so much out of them mentally, physically, and spiritually and they often begin losing hope. Studies have proven that when they are able to keep their spirits up, the disease can slow its progress. Keeping them cheered up and distracting them from thinking about their prognosis can often increase the time they have with us. God bless you for being a strong woman who helps them through their journey and being there for them in the end.

    1. Thank you so much LeeAnn. The whole process is a difficult journey and I do all I can to keep them encouraged and point them to the one where their source of strength can be found. It’s a rewarding job and keeps your life in perspective for sure.

  11. When someone you love has cancer, it changes your world. I have had friends struggle through cancer and I’ve wanted so badly to help them, but didn’t know how. Thank you for this! I feel as if I understand what I can do now.

    1. It definitely does Heather not just for the individual but the entire family as well. In many situations, you don’t know what to say or the right thing to say. I just try to show them the same love and comfort as Christ. I appreciate your support very much and hope this has helped you in understanding how to help those you around you dealing with this terrible disease.

  12. Angie – such a beautiful post. I had colorectal cancer and was so blessed to have friends and family who supported me. The things you have said are so true – cold all the time, chemo brain, and more. I can’t imagine enduring it without faith and support. You are a greater blessing than you realize.

    1. Thank You so much, Fleda. I had no idea you had Cancer. I hope all is well now. Believe it or not, I have seen some people that do not have faith and can be angry and bitter at God due to the sickness. I know they’re just scared and I’m patient and understanding and even will make the comment that I don’t see how anyone could go through something like this without Hope in Christ? These folks keep my own personal health issues in perspective and they are a greater blessing to me than I am to them. Thanks for your support!

  13. Angie, this really blessed my heart to read. We need more awareness of how we can truly help our loved ones in very tender situations. For instance, I never realized you could not use the arm on the side the breast was removed. Also, always remembering the toll this takes on the person. What a blessing you are to the patients. The Lord has really blessed and anointed you to be right where the He wants you. ❤

    1. Donna, Thank You so much. I’m thrilled it spoke to your Heart. The Dr’s don’t want compression from the blood pressure cuff and tourniquet because if they had limp nodes removed when the compression is applied from either the backup of fluid has nowhere to filter through. They will allow us to stick without using compression but the vein is much harder to find and start. If you see people with a nylon sleeve on their this has happened to them. Yes, the toll it takes on the patient and family is hard to witness at times. I also like you believe God has placed me there for a reason. It’s a ministry in itself. I appreciate your feedback very much

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