Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides information and answers for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Our highly trained specialists are available 24/7 via phone and on weekdays can assist through video calls and online chat. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with essential services and resources at every step of their cancer journey. Ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Today, most people with cancer are treated as outpatients, meaning they don’t have to stay in the hospital. During this time they often need help, support, and encouragement.
Many studies have found that cancer survivors with strong emotional support tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life. Research has shown that people with cancer need support from friends. You can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer.
Friends of people with cancer often want to help, but don’t know what to do.
As you spend time with your friend and learn more about how cancer is affecting their everyday life, keep your eyes open for other things you can offer. See how your friend responds to different activities, and know that the situation may change as treatment goes on. Tailoring your help to what they need and enjoy most is the best way to be a friend. Here we will give you some ideas about where to start.
Make sure your friend knows that they’re important to you. Show that you still care for your friend despite changes in what they can do or how they look.
Cancer can be very isolating. Try to spend time with your friend – you may be a welcome distraction and help them feel like they did before cancer became a major focus of their life.
Don’t be afraid to touch, hug, or shake hands with your friend .
Many people worry that they don’t know what to say to someone with cancer. Try to remember that the most important thing is not what you say – it’s that you’re there and willing to listen. Try to hear and understand how your friend feels. Let them know that you’re open to talking whenever they feel like it. Or, if the person doesn’t feel like talking, let them know that’s OK, too.
Ask your friend questions. Ask for their advice and opinions.
Many people want to help friends facing a difficult time. Keep in mind that wanting to help and offering to be there for your friend is what matters most.
Some people find it hard to accept support – even when they need it. Don’t be surprised or hurt if your friend refuses help. It’s not you. It’s more about pride and their need for independence.
Look for small, practical things your friend may need or just enjoy. Think about what their average day is like and what might make it a little better. It’s always good to laugh and smile, too, so look for fun things for your friend.
Everyone, no matter how strong, can benefit from having a friend. Your friend with cancer needs you and your support.
What not to do
Anyone with cancer, their caregivers, families, and friends, can benefit from help and support. The American Cancer Society offers the Cancer Survivors Network (CSN), a safe place to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences. We also partner with CaringBridge, a free online tool that helps people dealing with illnesses like cancer stay in touch with their friends, family members, and support network by creating their own personal page where they share their journey and health updates.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Last Revised: June 17, 2021