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Patient dying from stage 4 cancer

What Does Stage 4 Cancer Mean?

Your friend or loved one has cancer, and it is "Stage 4", but what does that mean?

Maybe they are even closer to you than a friend. Although cancer is generally understood by a large part of the population, there are still parts about cancer and the stages that accompany it that many just don’t understand. There are no more stages after Stage 4, and the patient could be in a much different place in their mind during this stage. Read on to find out what stage 4 cancer means for the cancer patient and for their loved ones, and how to be there for the cancer patient during this very serious time.

Understanding the 4 stages of cancer:

To truly understand what a stage 4 patient is going through, it’s important to understand the 4 stages of cancer. Here’s a short overview of what each stage means:

Stage 1 - The cancer is small and contained where it started.

Stage 2 - The cancer tumor is larger, and could have possibly spread into or close to lymph nodes near the tumor.

Stage 3 - The cancer is larger, could have spread into surrounding tissues, and there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the area.

Stage 4 - The cancer is not only larger but has spread to another body organ. When cancer spreads to even one other organ, it is in stage 4 and is called metastatic cancer.

So the cancer has spread. What does this mean for the patient?

When cancer spreads and the doctor deems the patient’s cancer to be stage 4, it means the likelihood for survival has decreased a lot. The percentages of survival rate are lower, the patient becomes weaker, and sometimes very serious decisions need to be made in the hopes of survival and remission. Here are some common stage 4 cancer symptoms in some of the more common types of cancer:

Breast cancer: Weakness, numbness, dry cough, chest pain, swelling of the arms, loss of appetite, bloating, constant nausea, severe headaches, vision problems, seizures, confusion, loss of balance.

Lung cancer: Excessive coughing, coughing up blood, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, feeling tired and weak.

Prostate cancer: Painful urination, bloody urination, bone pain, swelling in the legs, fatigue.

Colorectal cancer: Blood in the stool, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.

Bladder cancer: Painful urination, tired and weak feeling, inability to urinate, lower back pain, weight loss, swollen feet, bone pain.

Kidney cancer: Blood in the urine, lump or mass in kidney area, pain in the side, tiredness, not feeling well, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, bone pain.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Fatigue, night sweats, rever, weight loss, itching, bone pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain.

What are the side-effects?

As you can see, stage 4 can be a very difficult and painful stage no matter what type of cancer a patient has. The most common side-effects in all of these cancers are feeling weak, loss of appetite, feeling tired, excessive pain, and weight loss. Here’s how to be helpful to the cancer patient who has these symptoms:

Feeling Weak And Tired: Your friend or loved one is going to feel extremely weak and will most of the time be too tired to do much of anything. Don’t expect the patient to do much more than lay in bed or sit on the couch. If you want to be there for your loved one, try doing things that require little to no effort for the patient. Watching TV or a movie, talking, listening to music, and other activities that require little to no movement are great ideas.

Loss Of Appetite: The stage 4 cancer patient won’t want to eat. However, it is important that they do eat, so at this point in the patient’s cancer, focus less on giving them specialized meals of healing, and more on whatever it is they feel like eating. If they want ice cream, give them ice cream. Think of every bit of having an appetite as a success, and it’s important that when they say they are hungry for something specific that you make sure they eat what they want.

Excessive Pain: Simply getting out of bed in the morning will be a daunting task for the stage 4 cancer patient. Many patients in stage 4 are said to feel pain everywhere, all the time. They will have headaches, bone pain, and excessive pain in the area of their tumor including the areas around the tumor and where their cancer has metastasized to. Take things slowly with your friend or loved one, and don’t expect them to talk much or move at all. It hurts them just to speak even if they want to, so be gentle, caring and patient with them.

Weight Loss: Because of the patient’s loss of appetite, they will begin to lose a lot of weight. Don’t make comments about how skinny or unhealthy they look. They know exactly how they look, and if they could eat, they would. This weight loss will also contribute to the patient feeling tired and weak, so take it easy when visiting your loved one.

Besides these common side-effects, something very important to realize is that they are at a critical stage of cancer where the patient and their doctors must make major decisions, one of the biggest being whether or not they want to continue fighting it.

When cancer spreads, decisions need to be made about increased chemotherapy treatments, alternative treatments, and major surgeries. 

How you can help

Stage 4 is the toughest time for the patient and their friends and loved ones, so here are some tips for keeping the patient comfortable during this time.

Don’t be overly positive.  Knowing what to say is important.  The cancer patient may have already given up hope. You don’t know about every conversation they have had with their team of doctors, and they could already be at the point of no return. Avoid saying things like, “You still got this,” and, “You can still beat this,” and “Keep fighting.” Instead, allow the patient to open up first, and above all, listen.

Expect and respect major decisions. You must expect major decisions to be made by the cancer patient, and you must respect their decisions. At stage 4, they’ve had a lot of time to think about the decisions they would make at this point, and they’ve had many conversations with their doctors by this point in time. If they make a big decision, don’t go against it. Let them give you their thoughts and reason for making the decision, and above all, respect their decision.

Continue to care, and continue to be present. No matter what decision is made by the stage 4 cancer patient, you must continue to care about and care for your loved one. They might not be the most positive, and they might not ask you to do things with them. They may even tell you they don’t want you around. It’s important that you don’t run away or hide from your friend or loved one. Continue to be there for them, even if that means calling them, sending them a text, giving them cards or notes. No matter how the patient looks or feels, you must show them that you still care for them and that you are still here for them.
Patient who is afraid of cancer

5 Things Cancer Patients Are Afraid Of (But Will Never Tell You)

Someone close to you has cancer.

Maybe they are your friend, your family member, your coworker, your spouse. You might be afraid for them, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be afraid. However, it’s important to be a line of support to your loved one because they could be much more afraid than you know. You might not even think about some of the things that could be on their mind at all times. There are plenty of worries and fears cancer patients think about, but some are more common than others. Here are 5 things cancer patients are afraid of (but will never tell you).

Fear Of The Unknowns Of The Cancer Itself

You may think that your loved one would be afraid of the known effects and side effects of cancer and the treatment that they are prescribed, but a lot of times it is completely the other way around. Think about how much information can be found on the internet today. Now think about the fact that we as a worldly population still haven’t found the cure for cancer. Put those two things together, and you have a load of people online who have a lot to say but still don’t have many solid answers or information about treatments and cures and even cancer itself.

Your loved one has more than likely searched for answers to their questions on the internet. And even more likely is they are not receiving definitive answers to those questions. The unknown is a scary place. The cancer patient has the internet which can’t seem to have a cumulative answer or consensus, and then they have friends and family who are even more in the unknown, and even the patient’s doctor or team of doctors can’t give clear definitive answers to their questions. Many questions are answered in percentages and hopefulness and trying to do the best that they can. It is everything people still don’t know about cancer that can cause worry and fear for the patient.

Fear Of Treating Their Cancer The Wrong Way

Speaking of the internet, do you know how many different cancer treatment options you can find online? If you’ve ever searched for “alternative cancer treatments,” you’ll find a long list of treatments and ideas that people say have worked for them or for others, treatments people think could help in addition to medical treatments, and even more common you will find a slew of natural treatments, remedies and cures for cancer, many of which were not written by a health professional. Remember before when I explained all of the unknowns of cancer and the answers or lack of answers you could find on the internet? The same is true in what people think is the best treatment options for cancer, and it becomes increasingly difficult for patients to make a clear choice on what is the best option.

What happens to many cancer patients is they search the internet for things like “the best way to treat cancer,” and “new method for treating cancer,” and “cure for cancer found,” and “alternative forms of cancer treatment,” and “natural remedies for curing cancer.” And while some of the answers they find could be helpful in one form or another, there’s so many different answers and alternative forms of treating cancer that the patient is left wondering if how they’ve decided to treat their cancer is indeed the best choice. What if they choose a treatment that ends up not working for them? What if they decide to go all-natural and their cancer gets worse? What if complications occur? What if they listen to their doctor, or the internet health guru, or their family and friends, and things just don’t get better? It’s important to note that everyone has their own thoughts and ideas for cancer treatment, and there isn’t one definitive “best choice,” and that can be extremely worrisome and scary for the cancer patient.

Fear Of The Reactions And Worries Of Family And Friends

Sometimes even more than the worry and fear regarding themselves is the cancer patient’s fear about their family and friends. It might seem strange that with everything a cancer patient is going through and their long list of worries and concerns that they would also worry about their family and friends, but this is the case among many patients.

There are multiple worries patients have regarding family and friends. One relates to what you learned before about the unknowns of cancer and the multitudes of treatment options that are available. Patients are afraid that their family members and friends won’t believe in their choice of treatment, or that their loved ones believe they are choosing the wrong treatment.

Cancer patients are also afraid of the reactions of family and friends, and what their diagnosis will do to the relationships they have built their entire life. Cancer can be scary for everyone, and each and every person will react differently. Some run and hide, others are overbearing, some give too much advice, and others not nearly enough support. Your loved one is more than a cancer patient, and it’s important to remember that. They may be even more scared than you are, and they could be afraid that things will never be the same between you and them. The most important thing you can do is show your support by keeping things exactly the way they’ve always been. You don’t have to pretend their cancer doesn’t exist, but believe that nothing between the relationship you share has changed, and that will go a long way with your loved one.

Fear Of Death

It’s no surprise that cancer patients are afraid of death in one way or another. Some share their fear of death while others don’t talk about it. Some even say they are accepting of their possible fate. No matter what they show on the outside, cancer patients have at the very least thought about the last days of their life, and more importantly what is to come after.

A cancer diagnosis in many cases makes the possibility of passing soon more of a reality, and what many wouldn’t think about until they are much older comes rushing in no matter what age they are. The cancer patient must have thoughts of death because the possibility of passing is so much more real to them. They are told by doctors, by family and friends, by the people of the internet, that there is a higher chance that they could pass at any time. So it is indeed very likely that they would have fears of death at a much higher rate than the average person. Some thoughts include what will happen to them once they do pass on. Will they live in an afterlife? Will they be reincarnated? Will nothing at all happen and they just won’t exist anymore? Thoughts like this become all too true and real to the cancer patient, so it’s important to know that these thoughts, worries, and maybe even fears are on their mind at some point or another.

Fear Of Recurrence

What if the patient’s cancer has been beat? What if everyone has high hopes for the patient winning their cancer fight? What if the doctors believe their cancer can be treated? These can all be very hopeful ideas for the cancer patient, however, while these hopes of remission can be great things, what can appear in the mind of a cancer patient is, “If I beat this cancer, what if it comes back?”

You may think that a patient beating cancer would be the best thing they could ask for.

However, the cancer patient just went through a time where people treated them differently, where it seemed at times there was no hope, where treatment made them sicker, where some doubted them, while others disappeared and maybe reappeared into their life. They just went through so much, and usually, when the patient becomes free from cancer, there is a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of everyone who was even a little bit involved in the cancer patient’s life. 

Everyone becomes happy, joyous, free from worry. But it’s this release of worry and fear that causes the cancer patient to fear even more the chance that this could all happen again. And this fear is a big one because it can include all the fears mentioned before wrapped up into one big, “What if?”

Couple walking and talking about cancer

10 Things Cancer Patients Secretly Wish You Would Stop Saying

Cancer happens. In fact, it happens to over 38% of the world’s population.

Almost every adult in the world has had a family member or friend who has dealt with cancer. You might be surprised by some of the things people say to cancer patients, but indeed the wrong things get said every day. If you want to let your loved one know that you care, there are ways of going about it without saying the wrong thing. Besides being shocked by some of the horrific things that have been said to cancer patients, you might also be surprised by some of the things that you may view as positive and heartfelt that cancer patients actually wish you wouldn’t say. Here are 10 things cancer patients secretly wish you would stop saying.

Are you are having trouble finding the right words?  Read our article here about how to write a meaningful and heartfelt letter.

#1 - “Let me know if you need anything.”

This might seem like a general thing to say, but that’s just it. It is general. It doesn’t mean much to someone with cancer and leaves things open-ended and almost empty feeling. How is a cancer patient supposed to respond to that? What if they indeed asked you for something that you couldn’t do for them? Are they literally supposed to believe you would do “anything” for them? Don’t ask a cancer patient this empty question.

#2 - “Why would God do something like this to you?”

First of all, it's usually best to leave religion out of your talks with a cancer patient. Secondly, a statement like this gives them the sense that you believe a greater power did this to them for some sort of a reason. It gives the sense that there is something wrong they did to deserve a punishment. Leave higher powers out of the discussion in most cases.

#3 - “Did you smoke at all? Was it second-hand smoke? How did you get it?”

Smoking is not the cause of all cancers, and neither is second-hand smoke. A question like this only shows you are trying to put someone or something at fault which is not at all what the cancer patient wants to think about. And even if they did know how their cancer developed, it’s not something they want to have a discussion about just because you asked.

#4 - “Positivity is everything. Keep being positive. You have to stay positive.”

Positivity is not the cure for cancer. There have been many positive people who have died from cancer, just like there have been many negative people who have survived cancer. No one should have to stay positive, and no - positivity is not everything. And for the cancer patient who knows this, telling them that they have to stay positive is showing your own selfishness because you want them to be positive for others like yourself.

#5 - “Everything will be okay.”

This is another empty statement that many cancer patients hate hearing. No one knows if everything will be okay, not even their doctor. People can hope and try to make some things better than they would be, but no one really knows. It is impossible for every single thing to be okay, especially for a cancer patient, so don’t make yourself sound naive in saying that every single thing will be just fine.

# 6 - “Have you tried ______ ?”

Don’t ever think you have the magic potion for curing cancer. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to figure this out, and if it were easy enough for you to find the magic potion or pill or mindset to cure cancer, everyone would do it and cancer wouldn’t exist. But it does exist, it does happen, and you voicing what you think they should try in order to cure their cancer doesn’t help one bit.

#7 - “If you pray hard enough, you will be cured.”

If this were true, there would be no need for medicine or therapy or any sort of treatment. And on another note, saying something like this not only gives unwanted and false advice but also tells the cancer patient that if they don’t indeed become cured, that it was their fault for not praying hard enough.

#8 - “Have you planned your funeral / written your will / prepared for your death?”

Questions like this do get asked, and cancer patients don’t like hearing them. These subjects should only be talked about by those that the cancer patient feels close enough to talk to them about. If you’re not one of them, don’t ask about their funeral, their will, or any sort of preparations for their death. We all die someday, and no one is ever fully prepared for it.

#9 - “What if your hair doesn’t grow back? / Are you worried about losing your hair?”

Not all cancer patients lose their hair. And even for those that will lose their hair, it’s not something you should push your worry onto. Cancer patients have so much more to worry about besides the possibility of losing their hair, and even if they were actually worried about it, they wouldn’t want to be reminded of this worry by you.

#10 - “Live every day like it’s your last.”

Although this seems like a very positive statement, it gives a cancer patient the sense that you believe they will be having their last day soon. And on top of that, it’s difficult enough for a cancer patient to eat food, let alone getting out of bed in the morning. Don’t voice your opinion that they should be living it up and doing all the things they want to do.  Most of the time they wouldn’t have the energy or will to do these things in the first place.

Among these 10 things cancer patients secretly wish you would stop saying, one thing to make absolutely clear is that you should also not just be silent. Besides anything you shouldn’t say to a cancer patient, the worst is not saying anything at all. If you care about your loved one, you will simply be there for them. You will talk to them. Not being there at all through what could be one of the worst experiences of their life shows a lot. Talk to them. Be caring. But most of all, be present.

Preparing meals for cancer patients

Preparing Meals for Cancer Patients – What to Know

When you have a friend or loved one battling cancer, it is common to wonder “what can I do to help?”.

Preparing meals for cancer patients and delivering to their home is a wonderful gift for their entire family. However, before taking meals to the family or preparing food for a cancer patient, here are some things you need to take into consideration.

A Critical First Step

Before even starting to prepare your first meal, the most commonly overlooked advice is sanitation. Cleanliness is absolutely critical when it comes to cancer patients because of how the immune system is affected by treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Start your meal preparation by completely sanitizing your utensils, dishes, and prepping surfaces to avoid any chance of sending germs along with your prepared meal.

Some things to avoid

A piece of advice that is just as important as what to include in your meals is what to avoid. Chemotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment commonly affect the patient’s stomach among other areas of the GI tract, so preparing a meal without certain ingredients can help aid the treatment, and at the very least won’t contribute to any added damage.

There are a few types of foods to be careful about serving, and two types to completely avoid are acidic foods and heavy-texture foods.

Highly acidic foods that could negatively affect a cancer patient include but are not limited to grapefruit, pineapples, oranges, sugar, processed foods, lemons, limes, grapes, pomegranates, apples, tomatoes, sauerkraut, cabbage, broccoli, coffee, and sweeteners. Soda is not recommended, and neither is orange juice.

These high acid foods and drinks can cause acid reflux and make eating more difficult for the patient, and if there’s one thing you don’t want to happen, it’s your patient not wanting to eat. Another type of food that can cause a similar effect is spicy foods (like peppers), which will only cause added discomfort for the cancer patient, leading to a lessened desire to eat.

Texture-rich foods are difficult to consume and hard on the digestive system and should be avoided when possible. Especially during radiation and chemotherapy, it becomes difficult for cancer patients to swallow and consume food. Some refer to this as a rawness of the mouth and throat, which makes it much more difficult to consume tough-textured foods. Some of these heavy-texture foods to avoid include toasted bread, crackers, granola, raw vegetables, sweets, popcorn, fried foods, and overly processed foods.

Also consider avoiding gas-causing foods like beans, peppers, broccoli, legumes, and cucumbers, especially for post-operative patients, as their digestive systems have been compromised in a way that makes consuming these foods extremely discomforting.

Beef should be consumed only in small quantities and not as frequently as other meats, and you should never serve raw or undercooked food to a cancer patient, as well as foods and drinks that are unpasteurized. Consuming these foods and beverages could cause forms of food illnesses and poisoning which could make the patient weaker and less willing to eat.

To summarize what to avoid, do not serve highly acidic foods and drinks, spicy foods, red meat, raw or undercooked foods, unpasteurized foods and drinks, overly-processed foods, gas-causing foods, or texture-rich foods to cancer patients.

What Meals To Make

Nutrition is optimal for cancer patients, and it is important that you take nutritional value seriously when preparing your meals. Comfort food might sound appetizing to you, and maybe even to the patient, but what’s even more critical is the nutrients and specific ingredients you include in your dishes. Here are four nutritional tips to take into consideration, including examples of foods that you could include in your meals.

Protein is extremely important no matter what type of cancer the patient has. Protein will help tremendously in the healing process and will keep the patient strong through radiation and chemotherapy. Don’t underestimate the power of protein in your meals. Some high-protein foods you could try include chicken, fish, fully-cooked eggs (no runny yolk), beans (but not too much as to cause unwanted gas), cheese (softer cheese is better), pasteurized milk, and unsweetened yogurt.

Calories are a cancer patient’s best friend. Like protein, the more calories in a dish the better. You want to pack in the calories as much as you can, especially if it’s a dish your patient loves, as this will also contribute to strength upkeep during the whole process.

Vitamin C is another critical nutrient and a great choice for meals and snacks because vitamin C promotes wound healing. You might have thought to avoid this critical nutrient because of how acidic you think it can be. However, vitamin C doesn’t have to be acidic. While you should avoid acidic vitamin C foods and drinks like lemons, limes, and oranges, some forms of Vitamin C that aren’t as acidic include pears, cantaloupe, banana, sweet potatoes, cherries, and mango.

Iron is a must-have nutritional factor because when cancer patients go through chemotherapy, radiation, and other forms of disease therapy, they will commonly develop an iron deficiency. This can contribute to unwanted weakness and lethargy, and could cause more serious problems if it isn’t taken care of quickly. Beef and pork (when cooked fully) could be a good choice, but because of the rawness many patients feel in the mouth and throat, some better choices for iron include chicken and fish (salmon is very high in iron). Both chicken and fish have milder flavors and are much easier to chew because of their softer and less dense texture.

For Those Who Don’t Want To Eat

Although it can be extremely disheartening to hear that your loved one doesn’t want to eat, especially when it is so beneficial and crucial to the healing process, you must also realize how difficult it can be for some cancer patients to simply have the desire to eat.

A great way to get your patient to eat is to use appetite enhancing foods (and possibly medication). It is important for your patient to eat, so as long as it isn’t part of the list of foods to avoid, try giving them foods that they enjoy eating. Always have these foods on-hand and prepared ahead of time so if your loved one doesn’t feel like eating something you’ve prepared, you always have one or more of their favorites ready to go.

Take advantage of the patient’s favorite time to eat. If you find that your patient enjoys eating in the morning, make sure you have food prepared the night before. If they like eating in the afternoon after their daily walk (which is also a great appetite enhancer), make sure you have snacks and meals prepared for their favorite eating time of the day. If you are the caregiver to your patient, you can also talk with your doctor about possible medications that can enhance the patient’s desire to eat.

As a last resort, there is plenty of high-calorie, high-nutrition meal replacement drinks that include all of the necessary nutrients and protein needed to keep your loved one strong and healthy through this process. Ask your doctor for a recommendation on the different meal replacement protein drinks available to the public. You may need to go through a few brands before finding the one your patient loves, but it is something you should consider doing early in the process to avoid your loved one becoming weaker and sicker than they need to be.

One Last Tip

Variety is important. There will be times when your loved one just doesn’t want to eat, and there will be excuses (sometimes completely valid) for why they don’t feel like eating. When you have a variety of meals and options for your cancer patient, it gives them many more opportunities to consume even a little extra food, and as you’ve learned, calories and food intake are extremely important for your loved one.

By following these tips, you will be helping the patient get through this process, and you and your loved one will have an easier time getting through it together.

Humorous words of encouragement for cancer patients

Humorous Words of Encouragement for Cancer Patients

Your friend or loved one has cancer, and you are looking for some humorous words of encouragement.

It can be difficult to come up with the right words to use in these situations, and often you just don’t know what to say.

You might be surprised to know that many cancer patients would prefer to hear some humorous words and have a laugh with you instead of hearing the same overthought overly-heartfelt response that everyone else has been telling them. 

Cancer doesn’t have to be depressing and lead to the same conversation over and over.  Instead, here are some funny and humorous words of encouragement that just might lighten the mood, and put a smile on their face so that you can enjoy your time together.

Humorous Words Of Encouragement For Cancer Patients - Inspire with Humor

Here are some humorous yet inspiring words of encouragement that you can use in different situations to both encourage and inspire the cancer patient, while still adding a bit of humor. Some of these aren’t for everyone but you’ll find at least one that works for you.

For those believing cancer to be their life - “Cancer is a word. Not a sentence.”

Here’s one for the patient who believes they’re broken - “Broken crayons still color.”

One for the patient who’s worried about not progressing or taking a step backward - “Hey, taking a step backward after taking a step forward isn’t a disaster, it’s more like a cha-cha.”

Words to a cancer patient you are close with - “Thoughts and prayers are great, but if you need some good drugs, I’m your guy!”

A somewhat darker joke for the patient with a strong sense of humor - “Well, they say laughter is the best medicine… Unless you have cancer, in which case chemotherapy is probably more effective.”

For the cancer patient worried about dying - “We’re all going to die someday. I could slip on a banana tomorrow and WHAM. That could be the end of me!”

An inspiring set of words - “Cancer can take away your physical abilities, but it will never touch your soul.”

Letting The Cancer Patient Know You’ll Be With Them Through Everything

Besides the words you say, what really encourages cancer patients is to know and believe that you will be with them not just after they beat the cancer, but while they are fighting through it. Here are some humorous words of encouragement that let them know you’ll be with them through everything.

Put a smile on their face with this one - “If you need someone to talk to, I’ll tell you all my bad jokes. Maybe some good ones. Probably just the bad ones. My point is I’ll be here to tell them.”

Invite yourself to do something with the patient - “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. What are we doing, today?”

Don’t just let the cancer patient know you’ll bring them food if they want any. Tell them very specifically that you will be joining them for dinner - “I’m not the best cook, and I might burn my house down while trying, but what do you want for dinner tonight? Can I join?”

And for the cancer patient who’s having a craving, it’s important that they eat, so let them know you’ll bring them whatever they want - “I’ve got my phone in my hand ready to call any restaurant you want. Let’s eat tonight. What are we having?”

Let them know you completely understand - “This/cancer sucks. I love you. I’m going to kick cancer’s ass with you. What should we do first?”

Tell the patient what you would do to cancer - “If I could rip that cancer from your body I would. But I’m not an exorcist. Let’s do something else instead.”

For the cancer patient who enjoys a good scoop or two of ice cream, call them on the phone - “Welcome to your favorite ice cream store. Can I take your order? Seriously, I’m here, what flavor do you want?”

Words That Tell The Cancer Patient To Not Give Up

Sometimes a cancer patient needs a humorous kick in the butt to keep them going. Sometimes a purely inspirational quote or saying will do, but what’s even better is to add your own humor to it. Here are a handful of words that tell the cancer patient to not give up.

When the patient says they are dying from cancer - “You’re not dying from cancer, you’re living with cancer. And one day you’ll be living without it.”

An inspiring set of words - “You have cancer. But cancer will never have YOU!”

Bring out the fighter in the patient - “Cancer may have started the fight, but you are going to finish it.”

Remind them of the guy who gave up - “Hey remember that guy who gave up? Neither does anyone else.”

For the patient who has been told they’re wrong or made a bad decision - “Whatever you decide, there’s always someone to tell you that you’re wrong. Screw that guy. You make your own decisions.”

Here’s one for the cancer patient who believes they are a failure - “I’ve failed plenty of times. Who cares? Fail again. Just try and fail a little bit better this time.”

Remind them about the time they’ll have with you after they beat cancer - “Don’t give up. Don’t you want to keep hearing my bad jokes and terrible stories?”

A Final Note About Using Humor For Encouragement

Just a little bit of humor can go a long way for a cancer patient. With the negative thoughts in their head and sometimes even negative words they hear from others, it might just be that one funny thing you said that brings a smile to their face in a time of despair.

Some of these words and sayings won’t work well for every person, so pick and choose what you think would bring a smile to their face. If there are a few words that would sound natural coming out of your mouth, say them.

It’s better to say the words than it is to wonder if they could have helped in some way. You don’t have to make them laugh every time you talk with them, but giving them even a little bit of joy during their rocky journey can bring hope and happiness into their life, even when you’re not there.

What to write to someone with cancer

What To Write to Someone With Cancer

The shock of a good friend telling you that they have cancer can leave you speechless. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when someone you care about shares this kind of news.

Once your mind had cleared, and you’ve had time to think about the situation, and you're just not sure what to write to someone with cancer.

You may realize there are important things that do want to say to your friend.

An excellent way to let your friend know you care is to write them a letter. Not an email or instant message, but a good, old-fashioned, handwritten letter.


The tips below will help you put your thoughts into meaningful words that will be treasured by your friend or loved one.

Let's Get Started

Taking the time to put your thoughts and words on paper allows you to organize your feelings and share them openly and honestly.  It gives you time to consider what to say and how to say it to best support your friend or loved one.

Let’s face it, in an era of all digital communication, receiving a letter in the mail is a special treat for most people.  Your friend will appreciate your effort and have a tangible reminder of how much you care. They can read your letter anytime they need encouragement and support.  Maybe you will include your letter with a package you send.

Writing a letter to someone with cancer gives them a special gift.  Follow this guide to shape a letter that speaks from your heart and offers comfort to your friend.


Write Down Your Ideas

Before you write the actual letter, make yourself some notes about what you’d like to say.  Start by writing down how you feel and what you think your friend would love to hear. This could include how sad you are, your wishes and hopes for your friend, and ways you may be able to help them.  

Note a special moment or occasion between the two of you; a time that brought you together or a situation where you supported each other. Add a funny story where you and your friend shared a laugh. Give some thought to what you’ve done in the past to show your friend that you care and write that down too.


Be Positive

Now go back through your notes and look for things you wrote that were positive.  Think about the ones you have already and what you could add. Consider your relationship with your friend.  Does your friendship bring you joy, comfort, and support? Do you laugh together a lot or have zany adventures together?  The letter you write should remind your friend how important they are to you and how much you value their friendship. Writing about their special place in your life lets them know they are significant to you.  Reading about how much you value them as your friend will make them feel cared for and loved.

Make notes about ways you can positively affect their life now.  The simplest way you can offer to help is to let them know that you are there for whatever they need.  Offer to be there if they want to talk, need help, or want to do something fun for a few hours. You can also offer to help with errands, meal preparation, or rides to appointments.  Write down your ideas for things you are honestly available to provide.

It may be hard to be positive about the future.  Your friend is facing a difficult journey. If you already have upcoming plans, write about your hope that you can still get together.  Allow them to decide if they can attend. Don’t push. Let them know you support the decision they make. 


What Not to Say

Go through your notes again and cross out things that don’t show support.  Telling your friend about everyone you know who had cancer isn’t helpful. Your friend’s journey is unique, and comparing them to others isn’t fair.  If you’ve never had cancer, don’t say you understand how they feel. Instead, offer to listen if they want to share their feelings. Don’t fill your letter with questions about their diagnosis or treatments.  Let them share that with you if and when they want. As their friend, you can be there to discuss their concerns about cancer, but don’t assume you know what’s upsetting them or what choices they face. 

Remove any notes that judge your friend or try to force them to do what you think is best.  Even if you’d like to know, asking if they were taking good care of themselves before their diagnosis or if they have family members with cancer, is a form of blame.  Don’t demand they see a cancer doctor you know or try a treatment you think will work. You ask them if they would like suggestions of medical providers or services, or want help researching their options, and be prepared to understand if they say no.


Putting your Notes Together

By now, you should have a list of thoughts, stories, and ways you can help your friend.  Start your letter with their name or “My dear friend.” Referring to them individually or as someone you care about makes them the focus. 

Briefly, explain your feelings and how they relate to your friendship.  An opening like “I’m glad you told me about your diagnosis. My heart goes out to you,” or “You are a dear friend, and I’m here for you,” shows how deeply you care.  This is a good place in your letter to add a memory you have together or remind them of what makes you friends.

Let your friend know you are concerned and willing to help.  Offer to visit or call if they’d like to talk. Suggest things you can do to make their lives easier or ask what they need.  Write your letter with them in mind. Focusing on their wants and needs offers compassion and support.

Close your letter by repeating your willingness to help in any way you can.  Let them know you will support them throughout their journey. Stating that you’ll be there when they need you shows you are a true friend.

A nice touch is to write your letter on stationery that reflects your friendship or the type of person your friend is.  If they like nature, look for stationery with flowers or outdoor scenes. If you both enjoy arts and crafts or eating out, find a paper that has graphics related to your shared interests.  Avoid black or somber dark colors and stationery that looks too business-like. Use a pen that writes well and makes your handwriting easy to read. Unless your friend enjoys bright splashes of colors, don’t use more than one color ink.  You don’t want the look of the letter to distract from your message.


Sending Your Letter

Once you’ve written everything down, read your letter out loud.  Look for spelling errors or misused words. You don’t want to create confusion because your friend can’t understand what you wrote.  Use a closing like “Love,” “Always,” or “You’re in my thoughts,” and sign your name. Put your letter in a matching envelope and drop it in the mailbox.


Taking the time to write a letter to a friend with cancer is a wonderful way to show that you care.  Following these steps will help you write a letter that expresses your feelings and shows support.