Helping a friend with cancer at Christmas

Christmas is usually a happy time celebrating with family and friends. But for those living with a cancer diagnosis or undergoing treatment, it can be a very emotional and challenging time.

Cancer, and cancer treatment, can have a big impact on physical and emotional health, as well as energy levels, and this can make it hard for someone living with cancer to carry out normal daily activities, and at this time of year, also Christmas preparations. 

We’ve put together some ideas about how to help a friend with cancer over the festive season. 

You can do some of these yourself, or rally together with your friends and family and divvy up who can do what. An app like Thrivor makes this easy to organise and can prevent double-ups.

Make a Christmas meal

If your friend regularly hosts Christmas lunch or dinner for family and friends, perhaps you could invite them and their close family members to join your Christmas meal instead. Or why not gather some friends and get into the Christmas spirit by helping cater for your friend and their family.

If your friend doesn’t feel up to celebrating or getting together with others, why not take them a Christmas meal for them and their family to enjoy? They may not have the energy to put together Christmas lunch, and the gesture of a lovingly prepared meal may help to lift their spirits.

Help with Christmas presents and decorations

If your friend needs help shopping for Christmas gifts, you could offer to help. You could brainstorm gift ideas together and offer to go out and buy them, or help them buy gifts online. Decorating their home can also be a great way to help and to generate some festive cheer. Don’t forget to also offer to take down and pack up the Christmas decorations once the celebrations are over.

woman holding a basket of gifts

Send a card

While e-greeting cards are growing in popularity, there’s nothing like receiving a handwritten card to bring a smile to your friend’s face. You may be concerned about what to write in it, but honesty and sincerity are always appreciated when it comes to sending kind wishes. It can be as simple as saying that you are thinking of your friend and their family.

Provide transport

Your friend may have to have treatment through the Christmas period and so they may not have regular support for transport, or the help of carers, due to the holidays. You could offer to step into those roles if needed. If your friend is travelling during the Christmas holidays, you could offer to help with airport transfers so that your friend can avoid the long waits and crowds of holiday travellers in the queue for taxis.

Pop in for a visit

Before popping in for a visit, give your friend a quick ring and check if they feel like having some company. If not, book in a date for another time when they think it would suit them. A regular quick phone call to ask them how they are, and if there is anything you can do, will surely be appreciated. When visiting, you could bring them a little gift, something as simple as flowers from your garden, a book or magazine, or Christmas treats from home.

There are many ways to sensitively support and care for your friend. Talk to them to understand how best you can help, support and encourage them, not just for the holidays, but throughout their cancer journey.

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