How to Support Your Friend Who Has Cancer

Getting hit with the news about your friend getting cancer is devastating. However, as someone who is in a better position, you need to be the one to offer your support. 

If this is something you have never done before, you might be lost and have no idea what to do. This article should help you push in the right direction.

Be Proactive

The first thing you need to understand is that not everyone who has cancer is comfortable asking for help. 

If you want to help, you need to be proactive and take action instead of sitting around and waiting for a call to offer your support.

Reach Out to Cancer Support Groups

Reaching out to cancer support groups is not that difficult. The Beatcancer community and other similar organizations can help you because they consist of people dedicated to making lives easier for cancer patients.

Weighted suggestions from someone with experience can help you a lot. Though keep in mind that different patients react to the same methods differently.

Support Those Around the Patient

Your friend who now has cancer is probably surrounded by other people who are offering them help. It is great, but taking care of someone with cancer takes a toll.

The main focus is put on the patient, and for a good reason. Nevertheless, you also have to consider the feelings of caregivers.

For example, if there is a doctor’s appointment, you could volunteer to take your friend instead. Or if someone needs to pick up the kids from school, this is where you can offer your help again. 

Double-Check Before Your Visit

As already mentioned, different people react to things differently. Your friend might not be that keen to have a visitor, especially if they went through chemotherapy or another taxing part of their treatment.

Make sure to double-check before you visit. And if the answer you get is NO, do not take it personally. Put yourself in the shoes of your friend. It can hurt a bit to get your support denied but never take it personally.

Similarly, if you are visiting and notice that your friend is feeling a bit uncomfortable, ask them if you should come for a visit another time. Perhaps what they need at that moment the most is some peace and quiet to relax. Do not deny them that.

Listen and Act Natural

Acting all scared and unhappy around someone who is suffering from cancer is hardly what you should be doing.

Putting up a front is a challenge; there is no denying that, given the circumstances. However, you should still treat your friend as if things are the same.

Your regular conversations, jokes, talking about random things, and other things that you would go through before whenever you meet is exactly what you should strive for. The more natural you act, the better off it will be for your friend who wants to pretend like everything is normal.

Have Someone Dedicated to Provide Updates

If a cancer patient has a lot of friends and family that they have to inform about their health, it is natural to assume that keeping everything updated is taxing.

There should be someone dedicated to keeping everyone up to date. A middleman of sorts who is in direct contact with the patient and then updates everyone who wants to be kept in the loop. If you are willing to take off the pressure of informing everyone constantly off of your friend, go for it.

Be Mindful About Your Gifts

To show support, you might be inclined to come up with gift ideas. However, do not rush and buy something that your friend might not actually need.

There are practical gifts to consider. For instance, getting cancer treatment leaves less time to take care of various chores, such as cutting your lawn. 

You could purchase a gift coupon for a lawn-cutting service. A certificate for a one-time cutting is practical. Not to mention that your friend will not have to feel guilty about asking someone they know to cut the lawn for them. 


As you can see, there are quite a few things that you can do to support your friend with cancer. The effort you and everyone else around the patient put in can go a long way in helping them overcome the disease.

Also, remember that cancer can take a while to disappear, so prepare to offer your support for a while. 

There might be times when you cannot dedicate as much of yourself to help, so even a short text message is enough to show that you are still there and that you still care.