Write Brilliant

15 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Has Cancer

My sweet friend, Kathleen Brooks, is leading a small group of people who are fighting cancer—some with stage 4. I was moved as she asked me to pray that those she’s leading have increasing hope and deepening faith and trust in Him—that they would experience God’s wonder.

Her request made me think, “How can we best support those who have been diagnosed with cancer?” [Tweet this]

I asked Kathleen and her small group to put together a list of ideas.

If you know someone—a family member, friend, church member, co-worker, neighbor—battling cancer put one or more of these in practice. And if you’ve fought the disease, let us know what people have done for you that were most meaningful and helpful.

Here are 15 things you can do when someone you love has cancer: [Tweet this]

15 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Has Cancer

1. Following surgery, offer to organize meals or purchase a gift card for the local grocery store for the person’s family.

2. Purchase a six-month subscription to Netflix so the person can watch movies whenever the person is feeling ill. (Downton Abbey marathon, anyone?)

3. Rather than buy the person well-meaning but not helpful gifts like candles or blankets, consider writing a check they can use toward medical bills or what they need. Never forget that the Good Samaritan contains a story about helping those in need pay off medical bills.

4. Email regularly that you’re praying.

5. Avoid talking about friends or relatives who passed away from cancer. Don’t tell cancer stories.

6. Offer to pick up kids from school on post-chemo days.

7. Send a friend with cancer on a family get-away. Donate airline miles, points toward hotel and rental car, or gift cards. Provide an opportunity for the family to make memories together.

8. Instead of asking how you can help—which can create blank stares—consider offering to use your gifts in specific ways. Are you good at organizing? A natural handyman? Love to clean? Available for babysitting? Good at accounting?

9. Find out the best way to communicate with the person and stick to it. Some people will prefer texts, others email, still others phone calls or notes. Remember the person may not have the energy to call you back, but seeing a kind text can be such an encouragement.

10. Don’t use the person  as an opportunity to process your own grieving. If you have a comment or story on suffering or loss, keep it to yourself. Silence and compassionate listening are some of the best gifts you can give.

11. Send humor. Whether it’s a funny movie, comedian, or humor on YouTube, laughter is always welcome and a much needed stress reliever.

12. Offer to clean the person’s house, or better yet, offer to hire a professional cleaning team.

13. Avoid saying “I understand.” Unless you’ve had the exact, identical cancer, you don’t understand.

14. Offer to drive the person to medical appointments. Always bring paper and pen to take notes as the doctors and medical personnel give information.

15. If you say you’re going to do something for the person, do it quickly. The person is depending on you and believe it or not the vast majority of people make well-meaning promises and don’t fulfill. Be the one who keeps your word.

Weigh in: What would you add to this list?

UPDATE: Here are 20 MORE Ways to Love Someone Who Has Cancer.

Submit your name and email below to receive your free download on how to hang on when you are at the end of your rope. 

Check your inbox for your download now.