What to Say to a Cancer Patient, What Not to Say to a Cancer Patient, What to Buy for a Cancer Patient

I’ve included what to say to a cancer patient, what to do for a cancer patient, what to write in a greeting card for a cancer patient, and  the things NOT to say to a cancer patient.   After my own experience with Stage 3 Breast Cancer and over a year of treatment, I learned what things help heal a cancer patient.   Let the gift or card do the talking for you.  Just do something for them!!

Top 5 things you can do for a cancer patient:

1)  Send a greeting card – or send more than one.  Greeting cards have been a source of great strength to me.  I have received multiple cards from many people.  This has surprised me.   At least 8 people have sent me over 10 cards each!  One friend sent me a card every week for ONE YEAR!

Food is difficult especially if the Cancer Patient is receiving Chemotherapy.  Before you bring food, ask what they can eat.

2)  Drop something off to their house or send it by mail. Inspirational gifts are the best.  I had told my Oncologist I wanted to quit chemotherapy, give up, and die I was so sick .  On that very day an old high school friend sent me an inspirational gift.  Knowing she cared and the words were what I needed to hear, I decided I had the courage to keep fighting.

3)  Ask them if you can take them to treatment, a medical appointment, or a pharmacy.  You may need to be insistent with this, but make sure they know you are available and willing to do so.  Do NOT make a casual offer like, “Oh call me if you need a ride.”  The cancer patient does not have the energy to call and make arrangements. 

4)  If they have small children, ask how you can help with the children – babysitting, food for kids, taking them for a day, something, anything.

5)  Ask if you can visit, but let them call the shots.  Be specific and ask them to set the rules as far as time and date, and always give them an out if they don’t feel up to it.  Make sure you are not sick or have been around sick people, as this is disastrous to a cancer patient.


SEND THEM A GIFT THAT WILL ALWAYS BE APPRECIATED — MY CHEMO CAPS START UNDER $10.00 AT MY ONLINE STORE http://www.hellocourage.com   I will send a gift note card and gift packaging stating it is from you at no charge.




5 things to ask a Cancer Patient:

1) How are you feeling today? It is NEVER WRONG to ask someone how they are feeling especially today.
2) Where are you in your treatment? Cancer patients need to talk about this.
3) What are your chemotherapy infusions like? The first time someone asked me this made me feel so loved as they cared enough to ask this question.
4) Would you tell me about your medical team? I had a couple of people ask me this. I loved the question because it gave me the opportunity to share the wonders of my medical team. This was important to me.
5) What has been the most difficult part of being a cancer patient? I don’t think anyone had ever asked me this. But it is thought provoking. It would have been a question I would have liked to have been asked.

5 things to write to a cancer patient in a greeting card:

1)  I am very sorry you have to go through this.

2)  I admire your courage and strength to fight this disease.

3)  You are on a very challenging road right now, and you are doing a great job.

4)  My prayers and encouragement are with you.

5)  You are an inspiration to me and many others.

The Top 5 things NOT to say or do to for a Cancer Patient:

1)  Tell them they have been whining or complaining.  Cancer treatment is a living hell.  Unless you have been through chemotherapy, please do not pretend you have any inkling of what they are going through.  It is not like the flu.

2)  Ignore them physically or emotionally – do not run the other way if you see a Cancer Patient at the grocery store or church.   If you feel like you don’t know what to say, simply ask them how they are feeling.  The Cancer Patient is still the same person!   They just want you to show you care in any way – a simple “how are you” means alot.

3)  Do NOT tell them about your mother, sister, father, old Aunt Milly and their experiences with the horrors of Chemotherapy, how much they vomited, their terrible death, how badly burned they were through Radiation or other awful stories that will simply depress a Cancer Patient.  If you are going to tell them about someone, tell them about the Cancer Survivor!

4)  Do NOT call them on the telephone, tell them all about you and never bother to ask how they are, how they feel, or how treatment is going.  Ignoring the obvious is watching the elephant in the room.

5)  And NEVER say, “call me if you need me or if I can do something for you” unless you are a really close friend of the cancer patient.   I know we all have good intentions when we make those statements.   The truth is most cancer patients do not have the time or energy to really call.  Please be understanding that the cancer patient does not have the energy to keep up their relationship with you right now in the ways that you may have been accustomed.

I hope these things help you with understanding the needs of a cancer patient.  One small act of love or kindness can make a cancer patient want to live or give up.  It is so important to them.  I know my friends and family kept me alive!  Your kindnesses make a difference!