What To Say To Someone Who Has Cancer In A Card

What To Say To Someone Who Has Cancer In A Card

Dana Donofree
5 min read

8 Tips on what to say to someone who has cancer in a card 

It's not always easy finding the right words to write on a card for someone with cancer. How can we offer comfort or cheer someone up without being insensitive in the words that we choose?

It's crucial now more than ever to stay connected as we are forced to be apart, and there's no better way to do so than by sending a thoughtful card. And remember that no matter what it is you say, the gesture of reaching out will lift a person's spirits and show them that you care.

We hope  AnaOno's tips on what to say to someone who has cancer in a card will take the pressure off and allow you to write something thoughtful and from the heart to the person in your life who needs it most.

blank white card with brown craft paper envelope behind it

What to say to someone with cancer

It can be challenging to know what to say to someone who has recently been given a potentially life-threatening diagnosis. But for people battling cancer, the right words can bring joy in their life even during some of their most challenging days. It certainly did for  Kamelia Britton, a Mindset & Instagram Business Coach for Freedompreneurs, who was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer in July 2019.

"I went from the boundless freedom of traveling once a month to a new country through my work to the ultimate restriction of being stuck in a chemo chair for a year of aggressive treatment," Britton said.

As she went through treatment, she received a surprise gift left in her chemo chair from a person who received treatment before her. It said the following:

"Hello! I'm a 34-year-old battling breast cancer. I'm sitting in this chair today, leaving good energy for the next person. May your treatment help heal you, and may this card lift your spirits. Know that we're cheering for you and keeping you in our prayers. You were always strong. Now just everyone else knows too."

Tears sprung to Britton's eyes as she read the card. 

"Someone else knew what it was like and simply wished me the best," Britton said. "She didn't say it would be ok. She didn't try to make it better. She just held the energy with me that I may be healed. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it inspired me to pay it forward." 

What to say to someone with cancer who is in treatment

A person with cancer going through treatment likely feels anxiety about the future. They are also likely sad and angry about the changes in their life due to cancer. If someone you know is going through treatment, help and support is always appreciated in addition to a thoughtful card. Write words from the heart and ask how that person is feeling, and then offer ways to support them so that they don't have to do all of the thinking. Food delivery services, gas, and groceries are always appreciated, according to Britton. 

"Missed workdays and not being able to provide for and cook for your family like you usually do, is hard," Britton said. "These small gestures can go a long way and are actually very helpful for things that are needed during this time."

card that says, "how is your heart today?"

What to say to someone with cancer who has to shave their head

One of the most important things you can do for someone who has cancer is showing support, especially to someone with cancer who has to shave their head. You can do this in a card by writing supportive and loving words, acknowledging that person's hair loss and grief, and then offering to go to a salon with them or to help them shave their head. Don’t disregard their feelings or emotions by saying things like, “it will grow back soon.”

How to Throw a Head Shaving Party

What to say to someone with cancer who has a double mastectomy

No one can truly empathize with what it feels like to lose their breasts to a disease like cancer, and it is important not to act as though you do. Empathize as much as you can without being insensitive. Recognize that you can't understand what this person is going through, but that it sucks, and you're there for them. Don't shy away from the challenging subject. Acknowledge this horrible thing and huge loss and let them know that it is okay for them to feel however it is they are feeling.

What to say to someone with cancer post-treatment

Completing treatment is an accomplishment, but it's essential to know that completion does not mean it's over. Everyone who has had cancer must continue to get checked and live with the fact that recurrence is a possibility, which can cause PTSD and anxiety. 

"Completing treatment feels like running an uphill marathon for a year straight with no days off," Britton said. "Acknowledge and honor the journey they've walked with deep compassion and love. They are likely to be exhausted and just need loving-kindness and support. Ask how they'd like to celebrate in honor of completion."

What to say to someone with cancer whose cancer returns

If someone's cancer returns, it is essential you make them feel supported. You can't understand what they're going through, but reaching out and saying something simple like, "I'm sorry" goes a long way. Let them know in the card that you are thinking of them and are there for them.

photo of plant on a card that says, "sending hugs."

What to say to someone with cancer who is working with cancer

One of the most challenging side effects that people deal with when they have cancer is fatigue, making working extremely difficult. In addition, they are likely going through emotional changes, with intense feelings of anger and sadness. A cancer diagnosis changes many things, including someone's ability to work. If you know someone working with cancer, be sure to write in a card that you know what they're going through is hard and that you support them in any way they deem necessary. 

"Supportive words were the most encouraging during this time, so I didn't feel so alone," Britton said.

What not to say to someone who has cancer

It's crucial never to minimize how someone is feeling, generalize a person's case, or, most importantly, say nothing. In addition, if someone has had a double mastectomy, don't say that they got a free boob job.

"Having your breasts removed is highly traumatizing & painful," Britton said. 

If someone loses their hair, don't minimize it and tell them that it'll grow back. 

"Going bald within weeks of your first treatment is one of the hardest parts, especially as a woman," Britton said.

To find out more tips on what not to say to someone who has cancer, read this  article.

If you're looking for more helpful articles, be sure to check out AnaOno's blogs that will help you be the best support system you can be. 

Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.