Alberta Cancer Foundation

Top five tips for cancer care from afar


For cancer patients and caregivers, the support of friends and loved ones can make a big difference – but when you live in another city, province or country, this can be difficult.

Still, there are ways you can help a cancer patient, even from afar. Folks at the MD Anderson Cancer Center asked cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers on its Facebook page to share advice for helping loved ones with cancer, when you live somewhere else. Here are their top five tips:

  • Stay up to date on your friend or loved one’s treatment. Learn as much as you can about his or her condition so you can understand what he or she may be going though. If your friend is sharing updates through social media or on a website like CarePages, make sure you’re following them. That way, you can respond when your friend or loved one needs it the most.
  • Send a text message. Sending a short, simple message will let your friend know you care. Try to do this on days when he or she has treatments, follow-up appointments or important scans. Your message could make a big difference during a stressful time.
  • Mail or email pictures. Make your friend smile by sharing a photo of a fun time you shared. You can text or email the photos, or print and mail them so your friend can hang them in his or her hospital room.
  • Send handwritten letters, cards or a care package. A personal note or card is a great way to let a friend know you care. Or you can also make your friend’s life a little easier by sending a care package. Include magazines, restaurant gift cards, hats, blankets or any other personalized gifts your friend might appreciate.
  • Web chat and watch a television show or movie you both enjoy. Most cancer patients don’t want to talk about cancer all the time. Find ways to remind your friend about life outside cancer. If you share a favourite TV show, set up a time to web chat or video chat and watch the show together. It could help take your friend’s mind off cancer and bring you closer together.