When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, it is often difficult to know how to show your support. However, support from loved ones is integral to a cancer patient maintaining a positive outlook and greater quality of life. There are many seemingly small ways to help a loved one with cancer that can make a considerable impact on his or her experience living with the disease.

Some suggestions for helping a loved one through a cancer diagnosis or cancer treatment may include:


Perhaps the most important thing you can do for someone with cancer is to just be present. This might mean sitting and discussing topics unrelated to the disease, such as sports, pets, or funny past experiences, or it might mean actually getting out of the house to go to a movie, go shopping, or any other activity that person feels energetic enough to attend. Alternatively, remaining willing to listen to a patient’s fears or anxieties associated with cancer is extremely therapeutic; patients will often feel better once sharing concerns they typically keep bottled up to themselves. Further, a patient may wish to not talk at all, and to just enjoy the simple comfort of having someone else around. It is crucial that cancer patients know they are not alone, and that loved ones will be there irrespective of their moods or energy levels that day.


It is often difficult for a cancer patient to keep up with the copious amount of household chores required on a daily or weekly basis. Often, just being around to help with simple tasks like the dishes, the laundry, or walking the dog can significantly reduce his or her stress level. Alternatively, organizing a schedule with friends and family to assist with mundane household duties is an assured way of lessening a cancer patient’s daily burdens.

Grocery shopping and cooking

It is essential that cancer patients eat nutritious, wholesome foods while undergoing treatment, yet it is often time-consuming and arduous to ensure the kitchen is stocked with foods other than quick freezer meals and unhealthy snacks. Offering to cook or prepare meals for a loved one with cancer, or offering to grocery shop for him or her on a weekly basis, are small yet invaluable ways of ensuring he or she is not overburdened with what to eat. Further, ensuring pantries and refrigerators are stocked with healthy snacks will provide beneficial alternatives for patients not feeling up for consuming an entire meal from time to time.

Attend doctors’ appointments

As a cancer patient, doctors’ appointments are likely one of the most anxiety-producing parts of the day, week, or month. Therefore, accompanying a cancer patient to an appointment ensures he or she will not be alone in the presence of any less-than-encouraging health updates. Further, ensuring loved ones are not burdened with driving themselves to appointments is a small, yet impactful way to show your support.

Living with a cancer diagnosis is never easy, but showing support to a loved one affected by the disease doesn’t have to be difficult. Often, small gestures of kindness and encouragement can make a pivotal difference in a cancer patient’s emotional well-being, and perhaps even help him or her along the road to recovery. For more information on ways of supporting a loved one living with cancer, go to www.nccn.org or www.cancer.org.