10 Ways To Help A Person With Cancer

10 Ways to Help a Person with Cancer

Recently, I received an email from one of our M2P members asking for ways to help a young mom with two young children. This mom had recently received a breast cancer diagnosis, and her church leader, broken-hearted, wanted to support her in any way possible. As I read the email on my phone, my mind recalled the support Jeremy and I received when we walked through his cancer journey a few years ago. (To hear more about his story, click HERE.) From friends to our sons’ school teachers, our family kept going in the darkest of times because of the support.

If you know of a family whose walking through the cancer journey, they may or may not know what they need, especially if it is their first go-round. So below, I’ve shared a snippet of what I wrote to our M2P Member. I hope these tips spark your own ideas, enabling you to bring about joy for someone, like the glimmering ray of sunshine peeking through the cloud on a dark, dreary day.



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  • Cancer treatments are regimented. For example, RCHOP, Jeremy’s treatment for Non-Hodgkins, is similar to some breast cancer treatments and was every 21 days. This plan created a structure, which ironically brought certainty to the uncertainty. This organization also allows for a friend, family member, church leader, etc., to organize help effectively and efficiently.


  • They may be slightly overwhelmed after the 1st treatment. It includes a ton of paperwork with lots of signatures. I mean, it’s worse than closing on a mortgage. Learn when that date is and see what needs to be done pre/post-appointment.


  • If they don’t have help already, they may need pickup and dropoff for the kids’ schedules, such as school, practices, etc. It can be as simple as a shared calendar on G-drive where they upload practice times, and you find people (they trust) to cover the rides. You can schedule it as far out as the treatments go. This item is most helpful because it keeps the kids’ routine steady, bringing them safety in a tumultuous time. As much as possible, help keep the kids’ schedule predictable.


  • Sometimes, the most challenging days are within the first week after chemo. Then, the best days are within the week leading up to the next treatment. If this is the schedule, gather a team for the week following chemo and plan for it every 21 days. You can schedule rides, cleaning, food delivery, running errands, laundry, etc. It’s like getting ready for game day…or war. {Cue the inspirational music from Braveheart and a hanging cat poster cliche.}


  • Meals are tricky as some doctors limit outside food. Once the regimen is decided, gift cards are helpful, such as the grocery, juice bar, etc. If they have a family, you can set up a meal train (https://www.mealtrain.com/) with dropoff times on the front porch. P.S. You do them a solid by including the ever-so-important note: Please bear in mind, disposable items are kind. There’s not a lot of space to think about returning someone’s grandmother’s antique one-of-a-kind porcelain dish.


  • Their body may ache after treatment, so they may need items, such as socks, blankets, high thread-count sheets, a kick-butt playlist, a subscription to a streaming service, etc. Gift cards to Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies are gifts that keep on giving. They may not know what they need until they are in the thick of it.


  • If they have a caretaker during the treatments, they may need food brought in for the long chemo days. Gift cards to Uber Eats, Door Dash, Grubhub, etc., help cut costs. The caretaker may also need an encouraging card or text.


  • If they need groceries, household items, etc., schedule a weekly runner for them. For example, the family puts in their order at Target every Monday. Then the runner picks it up and drops it off on the front porch.


  • Because they may be especially tired the first week following treatment, they may want to come home to a clean house. If they are open to the idea, hire a service to clean the house the day or two before each treatment. And if the treatment runs through the summer, ask someone to cut the grass and pick the weeds out of the flowerbed.


  • If you have someone in your church who is a research guru, ask them to search for organizations that cover and write off medical bills. There are so many out there, but it takes time to find and time to fill out.

Elisabeth Lee is the Content Director for Ministry to Parents. She has more than twenty-four years of ministry experience, including student ministry, women’s ministry, and speaking for Bible study conferences. She enjoys SEC football, espresso, and artisan papers. Her heart is her husband Jeremy, two sons, and a bearded dragon.

For more on families in crisis, check out:

#013: How Churches Can Help Families Going Through Cancer

4 Ways Church Leaders Can Help Families in Crisis

10 Facts About Adolescence (How to Help Parents Survive the At-Home Quarantine)

5 Tips for Church Leaders to Help Families in Crisis


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