If one of your friends has recently been diagnosed with cancer, you likely have a bevy of questions and are struggling with how to best support them during this terribly difficult time. It’s a difficult situation to navigate for everyone involved, but your main focus should be acting as a rock and handling any need they may have as they battle this disease. From running errands to sending thoughtful gifts, helping out their family to simply lending a listening ear, there are many ways you can support your friend.

Help with Everyday Errands

Sometimes the best ways we can help friends dealing with sickness are the little things that might not be the first to come to mind. Handle the small errands that they can’t get to. This will allow them to keep their life as normal as possible while still putting their focus and energy into getting better. Spend a few hours a week helping them clean up the house, and if you don’t have the time, pool your resources with some friends and hire a cleaning service that can help keep the house in order while they go through medical treatments. Pick up bags of groceries filled with all the necessary staples without asking and drop it off at their home in weekly intervals. You could also hire a service to drop off groceries or produce to their door, like Green Chef.  

Thoughtful Presents

Sending along a gift can brighten an otherwise dark day or week. Order flowers online for delivery straight to their hospital room to let them know you’re thinking of them and to bring some happy vibrancy into the sometimes sterile, cold environment. Wrap up books with hopeful sentiments that may help them find hope in even the dreariest of moments, or frame beautiful photos of their family that will remind them of their reason to keep fighting against this terrible illness.

Support Their Families

If your friend has kids, be sure to provide support to them as well. Serve as a chauffeur to help them get around to school and extracurricular activities. Offer to bring over dinner for the family to make sure they keep up their strength during this harrowing ordeal—this will put them in the best position possible to provide support to their loved one. You can also babysit the kids when their parents need to attend doctor’s appointments and things of that nature. Every bit of stress you can take off their shoulders will make a huge difference in their ability to cope and fight against their illness.

The Faith Factor

For many going through a hard time in their life, support is found through faith and spirituality. Regardless of your individual beliefs, help your friend garner the strength they need from whatever source they deem fit. Drive them to services, attend with them if asked, and pray with them. Whatever they find to be the most helpful in terms of spirituality, encourage them.

An Active Listener

You’re going to have a lot of questions, but don’t overwhelm them with a barrage of queries pertaining to their illness. They may prefer to have a few hours each day being distracted from their reality, or they may not want to relive bad diagnoses. Let them come to you when they want to talk; simply letting them know you’re there whenever they need you is the best way to encourage them to open up should they decide to.

The Road to Recovery

Chemotherapy is horrible on the body, and if your friend is having to go through treatments, then you’ll want to make sure they recuperate in the best fashion. One way to help in this regard is to book them a massage treatment to help treat the stress. Make sure you clear it with them and their doctor first, as some may have heightened sensitivity in different areas of the body during cancer treatment.

It’s a horrible fact of life, but virtually everyone is affected by cancer at some point. If you have a friend who has been diagnosed, do all you can to help them and their family through this hard time—these guidelines are a great place to start.