Here is a list of ways you can help and encourage a friend or family member going through cancer treatments.
Positive Things You Can Do for a Friend Who Has Cancer
My post, What to Say and Not Say to Someone with Cancer was all about words. Words are powerful, but actions are even more powerful. Here are some ways you can help someone going through cancer treatments and some thoughtful gifts that cancer patients can use and enjoy.
As in my previous post, I enlisted the help of my cancer-survivor friends. I asked them what they appreciated most of the things people did for them. Their answers, as well as my own, are listed below.
Having cancer can be a terrifying, emotional, and often lonely journey. Knowing that others care about you, are praying for you, and are there for you means so much.
I hope these ideas will inspire you to do something special today for your friends and family who are going through cancer.
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What you can do for someone going through cancer treatments
Here are some things you can do to encourage your friend or family member:
Take someone to lunch or on an outing
If your friend is well enough, take them to lunch or invite them on an outing. I will never forget how my friend, Mindy, who drove three hours to take me to lunch and to spend the afternoon with me in a craft class. Or my friend, Susan, who celebrated my birthday by attending a painting class with me. For someone battling cancer, getting out of the house, laughing with a friend, and just feeling “normal” for a few hours can mean so much.
Leave a package, a card, or a note at their door
During my treatments, my friend, Carol, would leave gifts at my door. These thoughtful, little surprises on my doorstep always brought a smile to my face, and I still treasure each one.
Whether you are miles away from the person or just next door, sending cards can brighten a person’s day. If you know of someone going through cancer, consider sending them thoughtful notes and cards every couple of weeks.
Messages them via text, Messenger or email
While you don’t want to fill up their inbox, occasionally sending messages letting them know you are thinking of them, asking them how you can help, and letting them know you are praying for them can mean so much.
Call them on the phone
As with card and messages, an occasional phone call is a lovely way to let someone know you care.
Give the Gift of Laughter
Laughter is the best medicine. Send funny cards, text or message your friend jokes. When my friend, Carrie, was going through chemo treatments, her close friend gave her funny hats – a Turkey hat for Thanksgiving, a Christmas Tree hat, an Easter Bunny. It was hysterical.
Gifts of Service – practical ways you can help someone who has cancer
When you are going through treatments, even the most mundane, everyday tasks can seem arduous. Here are some ways you can lighten the load for your friend and their family.
And you can do many of the tasks listed below without adding extra time or work for yourself. If you are making a meal, make double the amount and share half with your friend. If you are going to the grocery store or running errands. Text your friend and ask if they need you to pick something up for them.
Make Your Friend’s life easier doing one of these gifts of service
This is one of the best things you can do for someone. Meal preparation can be difficult for someone going through cancer treatments. Getting proper nutrition is essential, but the person going through treatment usually doesn’t feel like preparing meals. And for the spouse or family member who is helping care for the person, it is another added responsibility in an already overloaded schedule.
You could also organize a meal train with friends, church members, neighbors, or co-workers to provide your friend with cancer a week or a month’s worth of meals. The Take Them A Meal site is a simple online service you can use for this purpose.
I remember grocery shopping was one of the most challenging things I had to do during treatments. I never realized how much energy was required pushing the cart around the store, gathering the items on my list, carrying the bags to the car, and then unloading the car when I got home. It was exhausting. Thankfully, my husband went with me most of the time.
Also, grocery stores are filled with people and where there are people, there are germs. For a person with a lowered immune system, there are times when they don’t need to be exposed to this risk.
So, grocery shopping can be a big help for someone going through cancer treatments.
As with grocery shopping, any errands you can run for someone saves them time and energy.
Babysit Their Kids, pick their children up for school, take them to after-school activities
For those going through cancer who have young children, their responsibilities are even greater. They are trying to keep a sense of normality in their family while dealing with their disease and all its side effects. Anything you can do to help these parents take care of their kids during this time is much needed and will be greatly appreciated.
Take Care of Their Pets
Pets can give so much comfort, but they can require a lot of attention and care. If you live nearby, offer to take your friend’s dog for a walk around the block. Or offer to pet-sit if the person has to travel for medical treatment or spend time in the hospital. Boarding an animal can be expensive, so you are saving that person money and giving them peace of mind that their fur babies are safe.
Clean their house
Keeping your home clean when you feel bad is difficult. Offering to clean someone’s house can mean so much to someone. If you don’t have time or can’t physically clean their home, consider giving them a gift of a housecleaning service.
Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Cancer Patients
Gifts Your Friend with Cancer will use and enjoy
Box of Sunshine
This is my absolute favorite gift to give. I’ve been using the Box of Sunshine idea for years, not only for those going through cancer but as a gift for anyone needing a “pick-me-up.” It’s so versatile, and since you decide the size of the box (or basket, bucket, bag, coffee mug, or mason jar) along with what goes in it, you can make this gift as large or as small as you like. This little gift of sunshine is perfect for creating a cancer or chemo care package.
The Hanging On Hope Box
The Hanging on Hope Box is an awesome, new gift-giving idea. It is the only subscription box designed specifically for women with cancer. You can order a one, three, six, or twelve-month subscriptions. Each month, your loved one will receive a beautiful gift box filled with 4-6 items chosen especially for someone battling cancer. These gift boxes contain high-quality products designed to comfort the body, calm the mind, and give hope and peace to their spirit. The Hanging on Hope Box is a beautiful way to encourage your friend or family member every month as they go through their cancer journey.
To see what’s inside one of these Hanging on Hope boxes, check out this video of me I made opening my gift box.
Kindle Books or Audio Books
A considerable amount of time can be spent in chemo treatments, waiting rooms, and in the car traveling to appointments. Being able to read or listen to books can help make the time go by more pleasantly.
Amazon Prime or Netflix subscription
Gift cards are always helpful to someone going through cancer, especially if they have to travel out of town for treatment. Gas cards, Starbucks, and restaurants in the area would be much appreciated.
A box of note cards with stamps
This helps a person write thank you notes for gifts they have received and mail them without ever leaving the house.
Cozy Blanket or Throw
A soft, fuzzy blanket can be so comforting when you aren’t feeling well. Travel blankets are ideal for cancer patients to take to Chemo treatments.
Pajamas with buttons along the front of the top
Make sure they are easy to get on and off. And the softer these pajamas are, the better.
A loose fitting, easy to slip on bathrobe.
For women with breast cancer this shawl is perfect for use during recovery from lumpectomy, mastectomy, and during radiation treatments because it is easy to slide on and off.
Washable slippers for hospital stays
Make sure the bottoms of the slippers are no slip. Hospital floors can be slippery.
Portable food items are a useful gift your friend will appreciate. Snacks are great to have when traveling to appointments, during chemo treatments, and while waiting at doctors appointments.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to do something special today for a friend or family member going through cancer treatments. Do you have an idea that’s not mentioned? Please share in the comments below.