Twenty practical things you can do to support someone with cancer

  1. Let them know you care.
  2. Help with errands (dog walking, groomers), house chores or with childcare, play dates and trips to and from school.
  3. Make a support team (try who can help with the things your friend needs.
  4. If you are close, offer to be the person who manages a group e-mail on what’s happening, fields e-mails and so on; it can be overwhelming (especially with so many appointments to get to). Offer to make phone calls if your friend is tired/overwhelmed/confused or needs a rest.
  5. Cook dinner and drop it off at your friend’s house – do this regularly and ask what the family like (and use a dish that doesn’t need to be returned).
  6. Ask them to do something (coffee, movie, walk, listening to 80s music) that they have the energy for.
  7. Get on board for fund-raising efforts that your friend is interested in. Wear the daft t-shirt.
  8. Think about the little things your friend enjoys which make life “normal” for them; watch a popular tv series together, have a laugh about something silly. Still invite them to things.
  9. Spend time with other family members (such as a partner or teenagers) so they get support too.
  10. Send a txt when you are at the shops to see if they need anything.
  11. If your friend has a child with a disability (or an elderly parent) they care for, ask how you could provide help and respite or be there at key times of the day.
  12. Remember it’s OK to use humour if your friend is OK with that. Losing hair and mastectomy bras can have a funny side if you’re in the right mood.
  13. Offer to drive to appointments, the shops, the beach or anywhere they want really.
  14. Be patient and compassionate – and keep it up even if it’s not easy (but don’t accept abusive behaviour – it’s just not OK, even if they are ill).
  15. Offer skills you have (like helping with financial, insurance, legal or tax paperwork). Let them know they are free to take you up on offers of help at any time.
  16. Co-ordinate groups of friends for gifts, cards or visiting.
  17. Give a carer/spouse/teenager in the home a break by going around and spending time or helping out, while they go out and have some space for their own life.
  18. Send a quick e-mail, text or message to say you are thinking of them (say “no need to get back to me” to take the pressure of them if they’re tired).
  19. Let them know you are “on call” for emergencies (hospital, kids, plumbing, chocolate) and mean it – show up when asked!
  20. Keep supporting even “after the party’s over”, most people are tired and emotional and it takes a while to start to get on top of things again.