How To Help When A Loved One Has Cancer

Cancer and Its Life-Changing Effects

By Scott Sanders

Cancer is more than a disease. It affects a person socially, economically and mentally. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. People of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, genders and creeds are vulnerable to this threat. When someone you love faces a cancer diagnoses, it elicits a lot of complicated feelings — anger, fear and grief are just the tip of the iceberg. However, the most prevalent thing you feel is a desire to help your loved one during this difficult time. But how do you truly help someone with cancer?

If you want to truly help a person going through cancer treatment, it is useful to understand the various problems the diagnosis presents.

  • Cancer has many physical symptomsthat can make day-to-day life painful. Anemia, fatigue, chronic pain, swelling, incontinence and persistent coughing are all common symptoms for various types of cancer. Once in treatment, the cancer patient has to deal with the various side effects that come with that, as well.
  • Cancer treatment is far from cheap. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, newly approved cancer drugs costan average of $10,000 a month with some therapies costing as much as $30,000 a month. That is an incredible financial burden for most Americans, especially if their health insurance is sub-par or non-existent.
  • Cancer patients often suffer mental health issuesincluding depression, anxiety and sleep problems. These complications make it extremely difficult to complete even the most basic activities like cleaning, cooking, and other household chores.

Listening: The Best Way To Help

The best way to help a loved one with cancer is to simply listen to them. Acknowledge what they are going through and always act in a friendly, empathetic and appropriate way. When talking with your friend or family member, you don’t have to fill up your time with chatter — it’s OK to be silent when you don’t know what to say. Be an empathetic and active listener and avoid making judgments, especially if they are simply venting. If you say something wrong, apologize and assure them you want to support them during this time. For encouragement, suggest doing simple activities you know they enjoy. This can help them restore a sense of control in their lives.

Helping Around the House

Between juggling treatment and the rest of their lives and the debilitating symptoms of cancer, it is common for people to fall behind when it comes to home care. A practical way to help a person with cancer is lending a hand around the house. Taking over for cleaning, cooking, or childcare duties from time to time can give your loved one a much needed break in their hectic schedule. If you aren’t much of the domestic type, you can hire help for just about anything these days from a handymanwho completes household repairs on the weekends to a dog walkeror pet sitterwho makes sure Fido is taken care of when your loved one doesn’t have the energy.

Help Raise Funds

The expensive costs of cancer health care can do a lot of damage to a person’s finances. Fundraisingfor your loved one can ensure they make it through their treatment without having to face bankruptcyin the end. Establishing a nonprofit group allows you to legally request funds from the general public and instills trust in donors. The return on investment of a nonprofit group for cancer fundraising can be amazing. Once the nonprofit is established, a fundraising event gets the community involved and drums up donations. Campaign for local businesses to contribute to the fundraiser and promote your event using both local media and social networking.



Cancer affects people physically, financially, mentally and emotionally. The best way to help is listening. Be a nonjudgmental presence that is there to support your loved one. Lending a hand around the house is another great way to help. From cooking dinner to hiring a handyman, you can help take some of the weight off your loved one’s shoulders. The financial burden of cancer leaves some people facing bankruptcy after treatment. Creating a nonprofit group and organizing an event that raises funds for your loved one can keep them in the clear financially so they don’t have to worry about such an encumbrance while treating this disease.