Saturday, February 24, 2024

What To Say To Someone Going Through Chemo Treatments

What Can I Help You With

What to Expect During Chemotherapy

Even though there are some basic needs a person struggling with cancer can have, it is always important to ask your friend what their needs are at that moment since it can change from one person to the next.

Sometimes they may feel like they want you to accompany them to chemo, but others, they can prefer to be alone, and all they need is for you to bring them some comforting food at the end of the medication.

Keeping an honest and open space for communication will allow them to show their true needs, and for you to be with them in the best way possible.

Text Messages To Send Someone With Cancer

Social Media Addict, LGBTQ+ Advocate, Feminist, Cancer Activist

Many people underestimate the possibilities of offering support through text messages.

I was only six weeks old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, my life has been an endless cycle of Im so sorry to hear that and I know someone with cancer, too.

When I was growing up, people would constantly ask me how she was doing. It was always awkward.

Of course, most people still didnt know what to say, what to ask or how to do it. How is she? was still code for Is she still alive?

It was worse when someone asked me in person. Between avoiding eye contact and a longer-than-necessary pause after the question, the whole conversation felt forced.

Sometimes, no response was the best thing I could offer someone, and thats okay. Dont always expect your loved one to get back to you right away. You can even message that: No response needed.

I do that with my mom all the time. Yes, shes still alive. In fact, shes going on 23 years as a breast cancer survivor, but shes not in the clear. Every week, she undergoes chemotherapy every six months, scans are taken. Time hasnt necessarily made it easier, but technology certainly has.

While it is not always easy, I try to check in as much as possible.

Gifts For Taboo Side Effects

There are also some side effect from chemotherapy that the patient is not comfortable sharing. For example: constipation, diarrhea, and hair loss.

15. Hats and headscarves to keep the head warm.

16. Dried fruit like prunes and dates to ease constipation.

17. Moist Flushable Cleansing Wipes dry toilette paper can be irritating.

18. Travel Tissue Packs because nose hairs fall out, too.

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Writing A Note For A Loved One

Sometimes, a note or card is all it takes. People love to know when others are thinking of them. When it comes to cancer, it can make all the difference in a long battle.

If you’re looking for more ways to support a loved one with cancer, read our guides on chemo care packages, gifts for people with terminal cancer, and the best children’s books on dealing with cancer.


How To Know What To Say To Cancer Survivors And Patients

One More Chemo Down Empathy Card

by Heather Moulder, J.D., ACC

Talking about cancer and someones cancer journey is awkward and makes everyone feel vulnerable. And humans really dont like vulnerability, do they? Although talking to a cancer patient and/or a cancer survivor might be uncomfortable, with a bit of forethought it doesnt have to be difficult. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that there are right and wrong ways of dealing with cancer patients.

Heres how to know what to say to cancer survivors and cancer patients.

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Encouraging Messages For Terminal Patients

48. I am so sorry you havent been feeling as good lately. I just wanted you to know how much I love you and that I am here for you.

49. I cant imagine how hard this has all been for you to deal with, especially after such a long road of treatments. I know how scared you are, and I am praying that you find some peace in the days ahead.

50. Please know that I pray for you every day. I know that you and have so much on your minds right now. I want to try to make things easier for you, so Ill drop off some meals on Tuesday for you guys and the kids so that is one less thing you need to worry about.

Talking With Someone Who Has Cancer

When talking with someone who has cancer, the most important thing is to listen. Try to hear and understand how they feel. Dont make light of, judge, or try to change the way the person feels or acts. Let them know that youre open to talking whenever they feel like it. Or, if they dont feel like talking right at that time, thats OK, too. You can offer to listen whenever theyre ready.

There may be times when the uncertainty and fear make the person with cancer seem angry, depressed, or withdrawn. This is normal and is a part of the process of grieving what was lost to the cancer . Over time, most people are able to adjust to the new reality in their lives and go forward. Some may need extra help from a support group or a mental health professional to learn to deal with the changes cancer has brought into their lives.

Some people with cancer might talk about death, worry about their future or their familys future, or talk about their other fears. You dont always have to respond but be ready to hear their pain or the unpleasant thoughts they might want to share. If you are asked your opinion about their illness, treatment, or other parts of their cancer journey, be open and honest, but dont try to answer questions that you dont know the answers to.

Try to make your response honest and heartfelt. Here are some ideas:

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How Do You Know What To Say To Someone Who Has Cancer

We want to start by saying that there is no right or wrong way to speak to a person with cancer and it is OK if you don’t know what to say. This is your colleague / friend / loved one / family member who is ill, they may be scared or worried or they may be taking their diagnosis in their stride. The most important thing at this stage is to listen. However, carefully choosing what you say can also help you show your support.

There Are So Many Things To Love About You


Cancer has a way of feeling all-encompassing. Those affected may feel like their identity revolves around being a cancer patient. That is simply not true.

Your loved one is so much more than someone who has cancer. They could be a dog-lover, artist, parent Help them focus on all their amazing traits that have nothing to do with their illness.

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Respect The Privacy Of Someone Who Has Cancer

If someone tells you that they have cancer, you should never tell anyone else unless they have given you permission. Let them be the one to tell others. If someone else asks you about it, you can say something like, Its not up to me to share this, but Im sure will appreciate your concern. Ill let them know you asked about them.

It might feel awkward if you hear through the grapevine that someone has cancer. You could ask the person who told you if its public information. If its not, you probably shouldnt say anything to the person with cancer. But if it is public information, dont ignore it. You might say, in a caring way, I heard whats happening, and Im sorry.

You may feel angry or hurt if someone whos close to you didnt share the news of a cancer diagnosis with you right away. No matter how close you are, it may take time for the person to adjust to the diagnosis and be ready to tell others. Dont take it personally. Focus on how you can support that person now that you know. For suggestions on how to do this, see How To Be a Friend To Someone With Cancer.

Supporting Someone Through Cancer: What To Say What Not To Say

How to talk about cancer can be very touchy. If youre the person facing a diagnosis, you want to communicate the right information without giving too much information. You want to be honest, but also not scare your loved ones. Tips for those who have been diagnosed can be found in our article here.

For caregivers and friends, sometimes you dont know what to say. You have your own emotions about it but dont want to make your loved to have to worry about how youre handling it.

At Cancer Services, we know this is an issue. We work with people facing cancer to provide tips and talking points and also offer the community some ideas on how to support someone through cancer.

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What Day Works For A Visit

Humans are social creatures. We thrive off personal interactions, especially with those who we feel comfortable around. During this difficult time, its crucial to show your support by planning regular visits. This will give your friend or family member a sense of community and help them feel like things are more normal. For example, the CaringBridge Planner helps you coordinate care and organize needs like bringing meals, rides to doctor appointments or taking care of pets.

Initially, when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer his friends came around and visited. Further into this disease they stopped coming. My wish is that they still continued to come visit, even if he wasnt interacting with them. My dad still needed the support and love and care of his friends. I would just go sit with my dad and read to him or talk to him about stuffeven mundane stuff because it helps him to not be alone and to have some sense of normality in his illness.

Susan B.

What To Say To Someone With Cancer Who Has To Shave Their Head

Illustrated Chemo Greeting Card Cancer Treatment

One of the most important things you can do for someone who has cancer is showing support, especially to someone with cancer who has to shave their head. You can do this in a card by writing supportive and loving words, acknowledging that person’s hair loss and grief, and then offering to go to a salon with them or to help them shave their head. Dont disregard their feelings or emotions by saying things like, it will grow back soon.

How to Throw a Head Shaving Party

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What To Say To Someone With Cancer Post

Completing treatment is an accomplishment, but it’s essential to know that completion does not mean it’s over. Everyone who has had cancer must continue to get checked and live with the fact that recurrence is a possibility, which can cause PTSD and anxiety.

“Completing treatment feels like running an uphill marathon for a year straight with no days off,” Britton said. “Acknowledge and honor the journey they’ve walked with deep compassion and love. They are likely to be exhausted and just need loving-kindness and support. Ask how they’d like to celebrate in honor of completion.”

Tip: The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Someone Is To Listen

Do your best to do this without judging and without cheerleading. Your ability to sit with someone who shares feelings of fear or uncertainty is one of the most significant things you can do to support them.

Many people feel pressure to always share good news. Try your best to alleviate that pressure and let them know that they can talk about whatever it is they are dealing with.

Instead of asking: How are you? or How is your dad? be more time-specific.

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Friends Family And Public Places

  • Friends, Family and Public Places

Health Tip Sheet

Crowds and Public Places

When undergoing chemotherapy, if you feel up to it, it is generally fine to visit public places. Just remember your immune system is weaker than usual and it may be harder for your body to fight off infections. If you do go out, try to avoid situations where you might come into close contact with people who may be sick. For example, eating at a restaurant or going to a movie is OK, but you should try to avoid a situation where you are in a crowd. This is especially important:

  • During cold and flu season, when more people are sick.
  • During your nadir, the period of time beginning about 7-12 days after you finish each chemotherapy dose-and possibly lasting for 5-7 days-is when you may be at the greatest risk for infection.

To further protect yourself, you should wash your hands or use hand sanitizers when you return home to get rid of any germs you might have picked up.

Spending Time With Friends and Family

Your friends and family are a big part of your support system, and spending time with them is important. Keep in mind that unless a friend or family member is sick or highly contagious, most doctors and nurses agree that the benefits of spending time with your friends and family outweigh the risks.

We Would Really Like To Hear From You

My CHEMO Experience Vlog: What Chemotherapy Treatment Was Like (For me!)

If you have experience chemotherapy or know someone who has, please contact us with your thoughts.

Did we get it right? Is there anything you would like to add?

Would you like to write about your experience?

Please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Dr Cohen started her working life as a research scientist and lecturer with over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

She followed a classical scientific career until she left mainstream science in 2000 to establish the Life Science Communications company, Euroscicon Ltd.

Euroscicon Ltd was her first company .

Current Projects

In 2013 Dr Cohen was diagnosed with Cancer and set up Cancer Care Parcel which provides appropriate gifts for people with cancer.

Dr Cohen is the lead scientific advisor at Optimised Healthcare. A medical profiling company which provides advanced disease prediction, prevention and wellness optimization services.

She also works with and establishes businesses and charities which benefit local, national and international communities.

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Well Wishes For Friends Fighting Cancer

1. This must be a really tough time for you, but I wanted to let you know that Im so impressed by your courage and endurance.

2. You are so determined to beat this cancer, and Im so proud of you. You are an inspiration to everyone around you!

3. The road ahead of you looks scary, but I wanted to let you know that we are here to support you every step of the way.

4. You have faced every doctors appointment with grace and strength, and I am in awe of how strong you are!

5. I want to be here for you in any way that I can. Is it okay with you if I schedule a cleaning service to come in next week?

6. I have no doubt that you will tackle cancer the same way you have every other obstacle in your life: with grit and determination and your fierce Ive-got-this attitude!

7. When the day comes that you are cancer-free, I will be there to celebrate right alongside you. Keep up that positive attitude because youve got this.

8. Dont think about it like you are dying from cancer you are living with cancer. And one day, youll be living without it!

9. Cancer picked the wrong diva to mess with! I am so sorry you are going through this, but I know you will fight it with all that you have.

10. When Im having a bad day, I think of you and your positive attitude. You are such an inspiration, and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

12. If you are feeling up for it on Saturday, Id love to take you for something to eat. Tell me where you want to go, and I will be there to pick you up!

When Someone You Know Has Cancer

Finding out that someone you know has cancer can be difficult. If youre very close to the person, this can be a frightening and stressful time for you, too. If you are not comfortable talking about cancer, you might not be the best person for your friend to talk with at this time. You may need some time to work through your own feelings. You can even explain to your friend that you are having trouble talking about cancer. You might be able to help them find someone who is more comfortable talking about it by helping them look for support groups or connecting with a community or religious leader.

But if you feel you want to be there to help the person in your life with cancer, here are some suggestions for listening to, talking with, and being around this person. Communication and flexibility are the keys to success.

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Put Your Own Feelings And Fears Aside

  • Donât be afraid to talk with your friend. It is better to say, âI donât know what to sayâ than to stop calling or visiting because it makes you feel bad.
  • If youâre feeling tearful, let them know, but be brief. You may have to stay away until you can be there for your friend, without your friend having to comfort you.

What To Say And What Not To Say To Someone Newly Diagnosed With Cancer


A friend or family member was newly diagnosed with cancer. What do you do? What do you say? This is probably a time when youre at a real loss for words. Theres always the standard, Youll be OK, I know it! But do you? This persons whole life has just gone down the drain, or so it seems. Unless you yourself have heard the words you have cancer, you have absolutely no clue what theyre feeling. They want more than anything for things to be OK, but no matter how many times you say it, they probably wont believe it anyway. So what DO you say?

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