7 Exceptional Ways To Support a Cancer Survivor

Dr. Gurdeep S. Sethi
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Cancer survivors need strong emotional support from family and friends to help them adjust to the changes cancer brings into their lives. Frequent visits, thoughtful gifts, deep conversations are some of the ways to keep them supported for a positive outlook and a better quality of life.

As we progress with more advanced cancer treatments and technologies, there’s an increase in the number of cancer survivors. Each cancer survivor has their own story and experiences; these feelings may be somewhat different as they are transitioning out of cancer treatment as compared to a few years ago. For those who have known the struggles of dealing with cancer, the fact remains that cancer has changed their lives forever and will always affect how they think and act. So it is important that they should be continually supported and encouraged. As you spend time with a close one who has recently won their battle against cancer, learn more about how cancer has affected their daily life post treatment. Often little things mean the most, so keep your eyes open for other things you can offer like moral support, a shoulder to lean on or just some time. Observe how they respond to different activities, and know how you can support them. Tailoring your help to what their needs and wants is the best way to do it. We have listed some ideas for you if you’re struggling to figure out the best way to support a cancer survivor. Here are a few options to consider. See below what you can do to care for cancer survivors and improve their overall health.

1. Visiting them often

Visit them often, try to spend more time with them, you can make them feel the same way they used to be before cancer struck in their life. Make sure you call them before you visit them. Scheduling a visit allows you to give physical and emotional support for the caregiver, as well. Make short, regular visits rather than long ones. Be understanding if your friend can’t see you at that time or if they do not want to talk, because they may not like being alone either. Try to visit at times when others may not visit them, other than weekends or holidays. They may feel happy one day and sad the other day, having an understanding of these emotions can help you support them.

2. Having a deep conversation with them

Some people worry that they don’t know what to say to someone with cancer. The best thing you can do is to listen them and pay more attention to what they have to say. Let them know that you care for them and understand how they feel. Be open to talking so that they can approach you whenever they feel like to. Gear the conversation by focusing on whatever topic they are comfortable with such as sports, religion, travel, music or pets. Give them an active role in the conversation by asking them for some advice, opinions, and questions even if you don’t get the same response you expect. Refrain from negative comments. Give them honest compliments. Support their feelings by sharing some success stories of long-term cancer survivors. Avoid saying them how strong they are; they may feel the need to act strong even when they’re sad or exhausted. Skip any kind of subjects, which can remind them of past behaviors that might be related to the illness, such as drinking or smoking. Having normal conversations and sharing a good joke with them is a good way to boost their moral confidence.

having a deep conversation with them

3. Offer to help with daily tasks

Assist them in their daily task or household activities like everyday errands, grocery shopping, babysitting, picking the kids up from school, or doing laundry. Make a list of tasks you’re willing to do, give them a call and see if there’s anything else you can do for them. Offer to help out by doing all the chores, this will almost certainly mean more to them than a present that comes gift-wrapped.

4. Give thoughtful gifts

You can send them some thoughtful and practical gifts to remind them how much they are loved and supported. Try to think beyond the obvious and go for something a little more meaningful, maybe gifts that help with treatment and recovery, safer cosmetic products ridden with triclosam, parabens and many other dangerous chemical substances that makes them more vulnerable. Clothing gifts is at the top lists for many people, you can go for shopping and buy them clothes, which they would love to wear.

Here are a few gift ideas that you can give them:

  • Books and magazines
  • Music, DVDs
  • Puzzle books or a food recipe book
  • Journal or note cards
  • Gift certificates
  • Pajamas or a robe
  • Colorful socks

5. Reconsider gifts of food

Food is one of the best ways to express your feelings for them. If they need to stick on a special diet keep that in mind and pack them accordingly. Avoid giving them anything, which makes them more vulnerable to infections. Depending on the situation, bring over one of their favorite recipes or offer to cook it with them as a way to spend some time together.

reconsider gifts of food

6. Celebrating Cancerversaries

For many survivors, surviving cancer marks as a turning point in their life, it represents a major accomplishment and the passage of a significant milestone. Other celebratory occasions such as birthday hold lesser values as they were before the cancer diagnosis. In order to commemorate their achievement you can celebrate Cancerversary with them. Cancerversaries are celebrated to honor recovery, renewed life and their survivor ship throughout the cancer journey. Make it a grand celebration invites your family members, coworkers, close friends and neighbors to celebrate. Cancerversaries are different for different cancer survivors; some consider their cancerversary to be their last day of treatment.

7. Go on an Adventure

Plan for a wild adventure trip that allows the cancer survivor to experience things they haven’t been able to enjoy for a while. They may want to squeeze in for some good trip post their treatment. Go for rock climbing, zip lining, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, sailing, bungee jumping or any other activity that gives them an adrenaline rush. If they are vulnerable to do anything that crazy, do something where you can still enjoy the nature’s beauty. You can go for camping, hiking, fishing or clamping trip. If they are still uncomfortable with these activities you can suggest them activities like yoga, meditation, art, guided imagery, retreats and support.

Whatever you do, let them know you’re always there for them. Just knowing there are people around who care and want to ease the pain can boost their confidence. Understanding their emotions and experiences is everything they need emotionally to regain their strength.

Hopefully, this article proves to be helpful to you in becoming a positive support for a cancer survivor and answered some of your questions about the same. You can get more advice, information, and tips for coping with and surviving cancer from our blogs. Follow Elawoman blog or call us at +918929020600.

Dr. Gurdeep S. Sethi

About the Author

Hematologist, Medical Oncologist
Dr. Gurdeep S. Sethi is a Hematology Oncologist practicing at Millennium Cancer Center located in Sector 44, Gurgaon. Dr. Gurdeep has completed his MBBS from Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana in the year 1984. Further, he pursued MD in Hematology and Oncology from Rush Presbyterian St Luke's Hospital, Chicago in the year 1997. Dr. Gurdeep S. Sethi has board certified three times in Medical Oncology, Hematology as well as Internal Medicine. Dr. Gurdeep specializes in various treatments related to Bile Duct Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cervix Cancer, Oesophagus Cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma and Thyroid Cancer. Dr. Gurdeep S. Sethi also offers treatments related to Tonsil Cancer, Uterus Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Sarcoma. He has an experience of more than three decades in the field of hematology oncology. He is currently practicing at Millennium Cancer Center situated in Sector 44, Gurugram. It is the first kind of medical institution which focuses on advanced research and treatment of cancer patients in India. The services offered at Millenium Cancer Center include Hematology, Cytotoxic Chemotherapy, Targeted Therapy, Surgical Oncology, Genetic Counseling and Testing, Palliative Care as well as Cancer counseling. Book a FREE appointment with Dr. Gurdeep S. Seth at
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    1 Comment

    Rohanlal Sarasvan
    Oct. 20, 2018, 4:23 p.m.
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    The information displayed on this webpage covers general information on several medical conditions, oncology procedures, medical, surgical & radiation procedures, various cancer & carcinoma types and their respective treatments. The exclusive purpose of the displayed information is for the sake of general understanding and it has been collected from open sources which heavily rely on research and laboratory tests. However, the information shared here should not be considered as a medical advice or an alternative to consultation with a registered medical practitioner or licensed healthcare professional.

    It is not advised to self-diagnose or treat any medical condition or disease following the information given in this article. We insist you to consult a registered practitioner and never try to replace their advice or discontinue treatment in between by relying solely on the information obtained. External links to different websites as well as videos given on the website serve the purpose of sharing knowledge only. Ela being an Independent Medical Information platform is neither responsible nor guarantees the authenticity, reliability, and accuracy of these videos and websites in any way. We do not intend the information displayed here to be used for a medical emergency, if you seek medical attention for yourself (or any other person with whom you want to share the information with), we advise you to directly get in touch with the hospital or the doctor.

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