Helping a Friend with Cancer

March 14, 2006

Caring handsAs I was going through treatment for breast cancer 5 years ago, I often would do craft or art projects to keep my mind off what was happening to me. If you have a friend or family member that has recently been diagnosed with cancer, they can get a free watercolor kit by going to:


Creating Hope provides creative materials at no charge to cancer patients during their journey through treatment and healing. Materials are provided in convenient, portable Hope Kits.

The Hope Kit contains all of the materials to give a patient the opportunity to start the creative process, including easy to use self-teaching guides.. Please remember, this is for cancer patients only.

By Marnita from Cumming GA

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Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 87 Requests
January 10, 2008

My friend has been diagnosed with lung cancer, metastasized from the breast. She has refused all Chemo and radiation. I know this has nothing to do with being thrifty but what do we do? She is single and used to work as a Realtor. The only family she has are her friends. There are 4 of us plus the patient. We are exhausted and she had surgery on Jan 8th. She is still in hospital. Her lungs are full of tumors. I don't know what to do and/or how to help. We are supporting her as best we can but what does that mean really?

Sandy from Baltimore


January 10, 20080 found this helpful

My mother passed away 6 weeks after being diagnosed with a similar cancer (hers was lung cancer that metastasized to her brain), and we just did whatever we could to make her as happy and comfortable as we could. If she wanted ice cream for dinner, which was her favorite food, then so be it! I bought her a half gallon of chocolate a couple days before she passed and just let her eat as much as she wanted, it sounds like nothing, but that was the last time we laughed together.


Just try to treat your friend to some fun, anything she enjoys, so for even just a little while she doesn't have to think about "it". Being a friend will mean more to her in the long run than anything you can do for her. You could take her out to dinner or cook her dinner!


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 169 Posts
January 10, 20080 found this helpful

It means that she is blessed with really good friends! My sister had a good friend in the 1960s who was diagnosed with cancer and no hope of living. Her group of friends took her out to eat and went to concerts as long as she was able. They were in close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains and the made several car trips with stops at craft shows. This same sister passed away at the end of November and I spent a night at the nursing home with her before I had to come back to Houston.


No three sisters ever loved each other more or had more fun than the three of us. Our other sister was gone already but Ninny and I sat up almost all night giggling and reminiscing. It was good for both of us. When your friend becomes bedridden that is the best way to show your love.

January 10, 20080 found this helpful

just be there for her when you can and let her take comfort in that read to her give her cards with poitive sayings etc i think thats all that matter she is so lucky to have a friend like you!!!


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 168 Feedbacks
January 10, 20080 found this helpful

I also suggest talking with her about everything that interests her and ditto on the food. Whatever it is she likes to do if it's to bird watch or be read to, look at photo albums together and talk about the fun times shared. It does wonders to lift the spirit.


My mother-in-law was in her 90's and suffering with frail health. Her doctor told her daughters to just take her home and enjoy her. They took turns staying with her in her home and cooked, cleaned and gave her everything she needed and then some. Her daughters were angels to their mother and she was one lucky lady to be able to stay at home and die there. Her home on the mountain was the only place she ever loved. Leaving it would have brought her down quicker.

If enough friends could arrange some type of in home care with a hospice program and then have friends pop in often to be there and help out in her care, your friend would pass with the best companionship til the end. Good luck and may God bless you all for caring so much as your strength aids in helping the weak friend complete her journey.

By Linda (Guest Post)
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

Get in touch with a hospice program. The hospital can give you a list of them. They not only help the patient but will help the people closest to her come to terms, and deal with the nuts and bolts issues of her choice to die in peace.


The best thing you, her support group and family of choice can do is to support her in this final transition in the best way you can work out. It sounds like she has made her decision and is ready to let go.

By Jennifer (Guest Post)
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

Has she been given a time line? When she is released from the hospital, she will most likely need hospice care. Her doctor's should be able to give you all the info needed to get that sat up. They are a wonderful organization, that truly cares for their patients, and will help you give your friend the quality of care you want and need for her.

January 11, 20080 found this helpful

have her primary care physician make a referral to hospice. hospice is a benefit that will be paid for by medicare and is extremely helpful in terms of pain management and emotional support. it is available to anyone with a life expectancy of 6 months or less.she will have a nurse case manager, and a social worker and a chaplain who work together using a team approach to help the patient and her family/friends.


i've worked hospice in the past and i highly recommend won't believe how helpful it can be.


Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 87 Requests
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

sandy here just with an updatS
Thank you all for the wonderful posts. she is only 50 so There is no medicare. She is coming home with visiting nurses and they will do an evaluation. She will have oxygen and a hospital bed. She is going to our other friends house. I found us kind of fighting on the phone today. Karen wants to do exactly, as Nancy has asked, but that is really going to put some big pressure on us. I love them both, but well, I think all of the friends are angry in different ways. I am finding out that is common. Thank you all again.

By Lisa (Guest Post)
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

Have a slumber party. Stay up late (or not so late), watch silly sappy movies. Eat favorite foods. Try new foods. Go for a drive and only turn right (or left), arbitrarily deciding how long to go before you turn. Find out where that takes you. Play games, silly, funny games like, "Would you Rather...." it can be found at Barnes and Noble that poises questions like, "Would you rather touch a snake or a skunk? Paint each other's toenails. Go have manicures and pedicures. Sit and read a book aloud to of those "Someday I am going to read that". Make a list of all the things she wants to do and do them. DON'T Approach the whole thing as "she doesn't have that much time" because none of us know how much time we have left, but, HOW ARE WE GOING TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE TIME WE HAVE LEFT? Don't fight amongst friends, discuss outside over drinks. You all want what's best.

By Peg (Guest Post)
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

Oh Sandy,

I have quite a different response for you; and, yes, it can be considered thrifty, as well simply because treatment does not necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. First of all, please don't write your friend off. Cancer, even late-stage cancer, is not necessarily a death sentence. There is a lot of information out there, and you can do some research on alternative treatments. What your friend has in her favor is the fact that she has refused chemotherapy. That means her immune system is still intact, and there is the possibility that it can still function as it is meant to be. This is not always the case when chemotherapy is used. People really need to understand that those toxic drugs kill the good along with the bad.

Conventional medicine does not encourage alternative treatment approaches, and there are reasons for that. One of the main reasons is that there is established treatment protocols for various cancers. Going for other opinions to different doctors will generally give you the same results because doctors usually follow these same established protocols. The said protocols are established because of various research and studies; however, you have to keep in mind that a lot of this research is funded or promoted in one way or another by the pharmaceutical industry who has a lot to gain by the promotion of drug therapy-only treatments. I'm not trying to get political here or bash any industry in any way. I'm not anti-drug; many medicines have saved lives. I'm just trying to present a, "Hey, let's look at the big picture" and not write off any seriously ill person simply because they have chosen to not follow the only option that their doctor made available to them. Instead, let's do a little exploration and research and see if there is something--anything--your friend can do to improve her chances.

As an aside, I just want to share with you that I have a friend who had an end 4th-stage cancer and was essentially "written off". Lung and liver activity was involved. She looked like a skeleton and had started a fluid girth. She refused chemo completely, used a natural approach (including diet), and is now the picture of health. Two blood tests that show cancer markers are completely normal. She has gained weight, has wonderful color in her cheeks, and has an abundance of energy...hardly the person she was when she was considered to be on her deathbed.

There is a lot of information out there. It just takes the effort to do the research. That effort can truly be an effort of love.

Please check out this website to glean some info: The amount of information on this site is huge. It will really be an eye-opener. It is not necessarily the be-all end-all, but it is a good place to start.

Some specific topics to search for on-site as well as on the web are: Methyl Jasmonate, Curcumin, Flaxseed Oil in Cancer Treatment, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).

I was the caretaker of two immediate family members who died from cancers. I do not wish to see anyone go through what they did, and I will always be a proponent for exploring ALL possible treatments. The best thing you can do for your friend is to give her hope, something her conventional doctors and apparently others here believe is already gone. NEVER give up hope, not at any stage.

God bless.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 288 Posts
January 12, 20080 found this helpful

Sandy, she is disabled...Therefore she can get medicare-disability . GG hugs, Vi

By (Guest Post)
January 12, 20080 found this helpful

What it means is that you are doing the best you can do. I agree very much with calling in friend recently used this service for her mother, they were invaluable!
You are doing the best thing that you can do, just being there....after all..there is NOTHING else you CAN do, so do not, do not, beat yourself up!

January 12, 20080 found this helpful

Enjoy as much time with them as possible. I am going through the same thing with my younger sister. It started in her appendix-then went to her lung-the to her heart then brain. She went to radition, but don't know about the cemo yet. Like she has told me they are going to put poison in her body & she doesn't like that idea. I took care of my husband until he left . He had cancer & he wanted to be at home, so i took care of him at home like he wanted. It is much easyer on them. Enjoy every minute you can with them. I am.
God Bless & Take Care

By Pat Spurgis (Guest Post)
January 12, 20080 found this helpful

On Channel 14, on the cable's a Christian channel. KNOW THE CAUSE,with Doug Kauffman, on the computer they talk about stuff like that, and other things. I had MRSA, after a hernia surgery, they helped me greatly.


January 12, 20080 found this helpful

There's a saying, live like you're dying. And that's the best way to help. If she cries,hold her. If she laughs laugh with her. If she's tired, let her rest. If she wants to talk, listen. Live the way you always have with her as your friend before the cancer. Take each day as it comes with no expectations good or bad. This disease is extremely trying on family and friends, but if you think you're exhuasted now, it will get worse. You can rest after she's gone to rest eternal and you'll have no regrets. Also some or all of the anger and petty arguments is one way people try to cope. They feel angry because they feel helpless. Don't take any of it personal. I've been down this road twice before, my mother and my late husband. Now I'm traveling the road again three fold, my present husband, and two sisters. When I get to feeling I can't take any more, I'm too exhausted I pray for strength, then thank God for the one more day we had together. I wish you peace, God bless all of you.

By Diana (Guest Post)
January 13, 20081 found this helpful

Create a caring bridge website to keep friends in far flung places updated ( It's free

Make sure she knows the power of the gospel

Read to her

Allow her to talk (vent, be angry, cry)

create a scrapbook for friends to sign and that she can take to her treatments with her (fill it with love, pictures, etc)

A treat bag for the hospital is nice (stamps, note cards, journal, scriptures, puzzle book, eye shades, hand cream, a favorite book, candy or photo, etc.) Also snacks for family member is helpful and much appreciated.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 263 Posts
January 13, 20080 found this helpful

May God bless each & every one of you, for your wonderful suggestions. They're all right. Be the friend to her, as you'd want her to remember you being. Do all you can to make her happy. Favorite flowers, favorite foods, favorite places to visit, favorite games, etc. It'll be as much as a blessing to you in your memories as it will be for her & her other loved ones. Most of all, make sure she knows our Lord Jesus Christ.

By Mary (Guest Post)
January 14, 20080 found this helpful

Help her to write a journal of memories, good times and things she wants people to know about her. Good luck, and God Bless you all. Mary

By Kim (Guest Post)
August 12, 20080 found this helpful

Call this number and ask for Kevin Maloney 1-561-585-7111 . This is a tea that I drank during my kemo and I had stage 3 Ovarian Cancer and am a survivor of (it will be ten years on 9-28-08.)

Go to ESSIAC-CANADA.Com to view web site. Good luck to your friend my prayers are with her. Kim

June 15, 20160 found this helpful

I think a little card, especially if you make it yourself. Send one a week or so. Find nice sentiments online and write them, giving the credit to whoever first pinned it. I love to copy poems from Ruth Bell Graham's books. Of course I always give her full credit at the end of each poem. Mainly this shows her you have her on your heart every day.

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August 29, 2008

I just found out my sister/best friend has cervical cancer. I'm very shocked and heart broken over this news. We are both scared because I just lost my Mother-in-law to cancer so the word alone is so scary to me. I told my sister and she knows I'll be there for her through it all but I just want to know what I can do for her? What should I say to her?

April from Belford, NJ


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 239 Feedbacks
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

As one who has been a survivor of the Big C for a few years I can tell you that for me the best thing people could do was just act like normal. After the initial 'how are you' at every visit my friends and I would discuss the tulips and the nice rain for the crops and the kids and most of all THE HUSBANDS!

We just had our regular visits. My mother remarked that I always seemed so up when she called. I asked her how often she would call if I was down every time! I appreciated calls before people went shopping to see if I needed anything. I appreciated being included in outings even when I knew they tried to tone it down to suit my physical strength. I wanted to be "normal" and my friends knew that and did their best to treat me that way. One aunt sent me about a dozen funny hats for my 'chemo head'.

I guess bottom line for me would be act normal. Most people don't want to considered different or sick...even if they are. Another important part that often gets pushed aside (because it upsets people I guess) is to let her say whatever she wants.. She's entitled to feel bad and sad and mad and scared. Telling her all the time that it's ok and not to feel this way or the other is not the right thing. If she's married she may not want to burden her husband with all the fears. Let her dump on you. You don't really have to have any answers. Mostly just listen. I know you're scared too but remember, people DO survive and prayer does help. I should know!

August 29, 20080 found this helpful

April, I haven't been in your shoes, but I know that I'd feel the same way if it were my sister. I would want to do anything I could to lighten her burden. I agree with Glenn'smom, listening would be very important for your sister. Prayer should be number one on your list. I will pray for your sister and you. God calls us to be there for each other and to pray. It's not over until He says it over! God bless you.

By glinda (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I lost my mom to cervical cancer. I had an aunt that was a 2 year survivor of cancer when just given a month to live. And her secret, was a positive attitude. Stay as active and a normal life style as possible, and stay positive. Yes, the chemo has it's ups and downs, but, with a good supportive family, hey, thats the best thing in the world to have! My aunt use to buy cute ribbons and scarves for her disappearing hair.

She had a fun, "coffee time" in the morning, where all of us girls gathered to drink coffee, snack, and talk, gossip, and laugh. My aunt was a joy to be around. She really enjoyed our time together. One morning, I did not feel like going over for "coffee time" and she called, saying, "hey, where are ya! get over here", and would not take no for an answer, but, I did feel a lot better getting out of the house later.

With the birth of my first child, my aunt made it her personal project to have a "silent shower" for me, and raised enough money to buy a really nice new crib. She was really a lot of fun to be around. She also discovered while going through chemo, she LOVED tomatoes! And would eat a bushel a week! My mom at that time would help her with a little mini tomato garden in the front yard. And they made a whole project out of it. My aunt always had to have a project going, it was her life line to staying out of the "blues" I think. Good family support, happy times, and projects to participate in, to what you feel up to of course.

I've known lonely, empty people with more dark lives, than a person diagnosed with cancer! Plus, my aunt was a Christian, and that alone is a BIG PLUS! On the other side of the positive, enjoyable times I had with my aunt, was my mom, very negative, and "give up" they gave her 3 months to live, and that's exactly how long she lived. Please enjoy life, none of us are promised more than today.

By Dyan (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I also agree with Glenn'sMom. I personally never had cancer (although I just went through a breast cancer scare this month -- I was blessed with my biopsy results). I do have, however, the experience of caring for my Mom for four years while she struggled with colon cancer. You BOTH need to be honest with each other. Talk and listen; cry and laugh. Make the best of a good day. My mistake was to try to be strong for my Mom and never let her think it may beat her (although I knew otherwise from her Dr.). We both tried to be too strong for each other and were never able to open up to our true feelings -- I turned to my boyfriend and family/friends. Later I found out my Mom turned to a particular cousin who is a nurse, who afterwards told me my Mom knew the entire time the impending outcome but was afraid for me. That's a mom for you. I truly feel we missed out on a lot before she parted.


Don't forget to take care of yourself as well! The stronger you are, the stronger you'll be for her.
All the best to you and your family. You're in my prayers.

August 29, 20080 found this helpful


I am a survivor of endometrial cancer. There was an excellent resource in an online Yahoo group called GynGals, now called Women Conquering Cancer (

Please check it out.

The other thing I wanted to say was keep visiting your friend, and trying to do normal stuff like craft or cook or shop or whatnot. And listen. These things were very helpful in my support system and I encourage everyone I know to do the same - the worst thing I could think of then were the times when I absolutely had to be myself.

By Jaye N. (Guest Post)
August 29, 20081 found this helpful

When I lost my son, (not to cancer), everyone wanted to say something to me. I know they very much wanted to make me feel better, but most would say something that didn't, and sometimes say things that made me feel worse, even though they didn't mean to. A dear friend simply said, "I can't possibly know what you're feeling right now, and I don't know anything I could say to make you feel better. Just know that I'm here to listen to anything you want to say, anytime you want to say it, without judgement. and without sharing with you the stories I know about pain and loss. And now I'm going to go clean up the kitchen and put a load into the washing machine." It was the kindest thing anyone could have said and done.


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 278 Feedbacks
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I, too was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 29. I was a single mom of four small kids and when I heard the C word, assumed it was an absolute death sentence. However, I was very fortunate. I had made it a point to have yearly PAP smears and the cancer was detected at a treatable stage. The cancer had not metastasized and I was given an abdominal hysterectomy. Twenty- seven (yes 27) years later, I am still cancer free. ( The hysterectomy has caused several health related issues in the ensuing yrs, but I am very grateful)

Ladies, please have a yearly PAP test and mammogram!! There are programs that will cover the costs for women who do not have insurance or who have inadequate insurance and cannot afford the exams. Please do it for yourself and those who love you.

I agree with the above posts. You don't have to say anything profound to your sister. Tell her you love her and are there for her. Sometimes a person just needs someone to listen to their fears and to know they care.

Grandma Jan

August 30, 20080 found this helpful

Thank You so much every one for all the kind words and suggestions.
I definatly will always be there for her.
And will never stop praying.
Thank you all and God bless.

By Denise (Guest Post)
September 1, 20080 found this helpful

God has given us amazing bodies that will heal itself if it is given the nutrition it needs and has enought time. If your sister would consider looking into some altermative treatments check out this site God bless you and your sister!

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December 21, 2009

My best friend has advised me that she has breast cancer and has to go for treatments (chemo, etc). Since I live in a different part of the country and due to financial problems, I am not able to go to her. I need ideas to cheer her up.

By Lynda from Kearny, NJ


December 21, 20090 found this helpful

I just finished chemotherapy myself and because I'm a voracious reader the thing I appreciated most was books. One of my friends who lives several states away shared some of her favorite reads with me and that was a real treat. Please don't bombard her with "spam" emails. Because the chemo affected my eyes, I can't stare at the PC screen too long. Although I enjoy getting personal messages via email many people just forward me stuff -- sometimes as many as six a day from the same sender. I know they mean well but I've gotten to the point where if the subject line begins with "FW:" I just delete it without reading.

December 25, 20090 found this helpful

There are a few wonderful books of poems and stories by breast cancer survivors which are cheerful and will encourage her as she progresses through treatments and recovery. Also bath gifts/lotions to pamper herself will be appreciated at this difficult time. Jill

December 26, 20090 found this helpful

My husband got cheery and meaningful cards from friends and family ...some weekly! Nice to know they were thinking of us!


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
December 26, 20090 found this helpful

I saw the most wonderful framed saying in a magazine, and you could get some help or do it yourself, to recreate on a computer and frame it.

It says "Cancer is so limited, it cannot cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy peace, kill friendship, supress memories, silence courage, steal eternal life
and it cannot conquer the spirit".

You could even present it to her in a frame, and keep the original on the computer for making a book mark and a smaller version she can keep in a key chains photo holder. If you have another friend who might need it, you can keep it to share with them. With a little time, you can put in a clip art of their favorite flower, a religious symbol, or something they love.

I hope this helps.
Sandi/Poor But Proud

December 26, 20090 found this helpful

Occasional notes, phone calls, just to let her know you are thinking of her. I love the series of "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. Chances are they have one dealing with cancer. Never under estimate the power of prayer. Many churches pray for people, or an entire family during their services. Tell her you love her, and are thinking and praying for her each day.


Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
December 27, 20090 found this helpful

I'm aware most cancer patients feel ill and tired because of the various treatments. Few have the energy to do those daily housekeeping tasks, yet it's miserable looking around at a dirty house. I can't remember the details, but I recall receiving info (via an email forward, of course) that there's a group that arranges free weekly house cleaning for cancer patients. Perhaps you could look up that info... should have the particulars if you type something like "cancer house cleaning" in their search box.

March 26, 20100 found this helpful

This is the website for the people that clean for those that have cancer.

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March 4, 2018

Preparing a thoughtful gift basket for someone with serious health issues can bring smiles and inspiration. This page contains basket of encouragement ideas for a cancer patient.

Gift basket full of spa items.

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