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Helping Someone With Cancer  
by Charles Kassotis

Do you know someone with cancer? A cancer diagnosis can be crippling in itself, inciting fear and anxiety over an unknown or perhaps dreaded future. Victims worry about their health, their looks, and their families when a doctor pronounces this terrible sentence. If a friend or family member is struggling with one of the many forms of cancer, your support and encouragement are likely to be most welcome.

But how do you help someone who has cancer? There are several things you can do to make your friend or loved one feel more at ease.

1. Treat the person the same as always. Don't approach her gingerly, as though she might break or fade away. Nor should you overdo it, however, by talking too much or roughhousing with children who may be physically fragile. Just treat the person the same as you would if he had not been diagnosed with this condition. Of course, if the diagnosis is grim, you need adapt your attitude accordingly and not gloss over serious implications.

2. Offer practical assistance. As you have time, run errands or bring in a home-cooked meal. Grocery shopping, letter mailing, and kid drop-offs at sporting events can save the sick person's time and energy. Depending on how well you are acquainted with the victim, you might want to come over a few hours each week to clean house, baby-sit, or cook meals for freezing.

3. Be an encouragement. Send a funny get-well card or an inspiring note. Drop off a humorous video or suggest praying together before you leave. Using discretion, you might want to let others know about the ill person's indisposition so they can possibly help out, too.

4. Be willing to listen. Sometimes those facing a serious problem like cancer, especially when a terminal diagnosis has been given, may simply want to reminisce about the past, discuss future plans, or share difficult emotions. Just being available to listen in person, by telephone, or via the Internet can provide a beautiful source of support. Don't push or pry, however. Wait until the person is ready to talk.

5. If the situation warrants, consider donating financial support. A single mother with two fatherless children may need to get connected to social service agencies. Or she may have some general support already, but lack a little extra money for holidays or birthdays. You may want to send a card with a $20 check that could help pay for special occasions or real needs, needs, like medication, above and beyond any insurance coverage.

6. Provide transportation. If the person grows weak or is unable to drive and family members work at jobs that keep them from driving the sufferer to appointments, ask if you can take the person when you are available. Getting around is one of the greatest challenges facing people who become immobile with serious illnesses.

Whatever your circumstances, chances are you can offer some kind of help to a person who is struggling with cancer. It will certainly be appreciated!

About the Author

For more information about helping someone who has cancer or to get help for a loved one or yourself, visit Cancer Directory at

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