How to Give Support to Cancer Patients

picture-19Cancer is a chronic health condition. One of the downsides to suffering from cancer is that the person might go through a lot of emotional trauma. If you are a friend or family to someone that has cancer and if you are looking for how to support such individual, you are reading the right article. However, you need to understand the stages of grief they go through before knowing how to support effectively.

Let’s quickly explain what they go through for you before we highlight how you can support cancer patients.

There are five stages of grief people go through when they hear sad news. There is the “denial” phase. In this phase, cancer patients experience shock. They find it difficult to accept the changes happening in their bodies. Then, their brains naturally kick start its best defense, making them believe that the illness is not real. The second phase is “anger.” In this stage, the individual realizes that the symptoms of cancer are still evident in them. This realization makes them more furious. Most cancer patients are upset with their body, doctor, family, and friends as well as everything that used to make them happy before.

The third phase, which is known as the “bargaining” phase, occurs when cancer patients need to divert the illness away. They channel all their energy into one thing that makes them happy about life. The fourth stage is “depression.” At this point, a cancer patient does not have the energy to pretend anymore. Still, he or she has not accepted it. Nothing matters again then. He or she may view life as unfair. Depression then sets in. The last stage is “acceptance.” The cancer patient finally comes to terms with the illness. He or she accepts it and is ready to fight the disease or cure it. At this point, the person embraces all the things they used to love. And they start facing the reality of the situation.

The number of times your loved one can go through this stage is limitless. They can get a new diagnosis and go through the stages of grief all over again. As a friend or family, you are most likely at a loss about what to do to make the cancer patient feel relieved. There are certain things you can do to help. Here are some ways you can give support to a cancer patient:

Accept Their condition: It is often sad to see loved ones go through health challenges. They do not wish to die of any ailment. And neither do they want to be sick. Just like everybody, cancer patients don’t want to die. They also need you to accept what is happening to them. So, quit the denial! It will only worsen the already bad situation. If you continue to ignore them, they will know that you have not come to terms with their condition. The fact that you have not accepted that your loved ones are suffering from cancer will make it harder for them to come to terms with the ailment, too.

Show Love: Love is an action word. It has to be evident in your behavior. Cancer patients need your unconditional love. Love them irrespective of their health issues.  Individuals suffering from cancer will often try to stay away from you, especially during the denial and anger phase.  Give them the distance they need. It’s normal for them to react like that. Don’t way, they will soon accept the reality that we do not discriminate them or pity them because of their health problems. Love is a form of medicine on its own. It brings about an inner sense of peace and victory. Your demonstration of love towards cancer patients is just the right step to their recovery.

Prepare Their Meals: It is common for people going through health challenges to lose interest in eating. Highly nutritious food at this point will do the diseased body a lot of good.  Take the pain to prepare the food of your loved ones going through cancer. When they refuse to something, do not force them. Just leave them alone or ignore their idiosyncrasies. Even if they refuse to eat, continue to prepare their meals. With time, they will change gradually

Let Them Have Fun: Cancer patients once had a good life before they had the ailment. And they should still have a life with cancer. Cancer should not spell the end of fun for them. Allow that cancer patient to have a wonderful time. Being overprotective of them is natural. You tend to see the person as very fragile, and you want to shield them from any harm. Doing that will not help them. Allow cancer patients to have as much fun they desire so far it won’t affect their health condition. Set up night outs for the individual; do not stop him/her from going for a romantic date. Hanging out with their friends is a good therapy. Doing some of these things will help them tremendously.

Offer to Help: No one wants to be a burden on the other person. It is common for cancer patients not to ask for help. It is not because they do not need help; it is because they do not want to stress you or bother you. To give support, offer to help such person and try to be compassionate with them. Let them know how much you really care about them. And tell them how willing you are desirous of helping them to overcome their challenges.


There are so many other ways to give support to cancer patients. Sit down and write a list of how you can help them. Do all you can to fill in the void. They need your support enormously. However, they might be too engrossed in their grief to even realize how much they need you. Support them when they least expect it. Let them know that suffering from cancer is not the end of the world. And most importantly, let them know that you understand their challenges.

Photo Credit: Pasadenacyberknife