How to Encourage & Help Someone With Lung Cancer

Pictured above is Cathy Bluey and her daughter—their story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

When a loved one is diagnosed with lung cancer, it’s normal to feel at a loss for how to support them. While we can’t magically heal them, we can do many different things to offer them comfort and encouragement. Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of caring and kindness that mean the most. 

We called upon our CaringBridge community for ways to help someone battling lung cancer. You’re welcome to try any of these suggestions to nurture and inspire your loved one. 

1. Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a very simple and effective way to show empathy. Paying attention to what your loved one shares with you, making eye contact while they speak, and being patient as they find the words are all ways to show you care.

You can also reflect their words back to them by paraphrasing. Just be sure to withhold any judgments about what they share. Each individual’s experience is unique—we must step back and see it through their eyes.

“Always be there to listen, offer to do things for them like cleaning or going to the store. Pray for them.”

Charlene J. 

2. Let Them Know You Care 

There are many ways to show someone you care. You can offer them compassionate words, or show them through your actions. Keeping them company, running errands for them or cleaning their home will illustrate to someone how much you cherish them. 

“Listen to them. Tell them you care about them.”

Maureen O. 

3. Bring Gifts for Company & Caregivers 

When someone has lung cancer, they’re going to be around a lot of caregivers, visitors and fellow patients. You can bring gifts for your loved one to share, such as treats, bath bombs or other self-care items. Other ideas include tote bags, books or tea. This is a great way to bring a smile to the face of your loved one and those on their care team.

“Take some parched peanuts or something they can enjoy or share with company and caregivers.”

Sarah H.B. 

4. Send Positive Prayers, Meditations or Thoughts 

Send your loved one as many prayers and healing thoughts as possible. If you have a religious community, ask the members to pray on your loved one’s behalf or create a prayer chain

Post a request on social media for loving, positive thoughts and offer your loved one prayers and meditations to recite. You can even hold group meditation sessions in person or online for hope and comfort. 

“Pray for them. I also suggested that it might be time that an estranged family member  visited. It turned out that they did. They also returned the next day with more family members.”

Deborah S.M.

5. Help Them Smile & Stay Positive 

Uplift your loved one’s spirits by helping them laugh and smile. Bring them your favorite funny movie or watch a comedy special together. Help them enjoy one of their favorite activities or genuinely compliment them. Try different things and know that every bit helps. For cancer information, day-to-day help, and support, you can visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network (CSN) or call the Cancer Helpline at 1-800-227-2345. CSN is a peer support community for people with cancer, survivors, caregivers, families, and friends, and a safe place to connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.

6. Start a CaringBridge Site

You can help your loved one make their own CaringBridge site or do it on their behalf. CaringBridge allows patients to update family and friends on their progress with an online journal. It can feel overwhelming sending out text and email updates to multiple friends and family members. CaringBridge helps to alleviate some of that stress by creating a hub for family and friends to connect with loved ones going through a health crisis. 

CaringBridge also includes an effective planner where your loved one can request help with errands, chores and anything else they need. The site is easy to maintain, and you can even have your loved one dictate to you if they’re too tired to write and post themselves.

“This website was amazing for my cousin. I sure miss him and reading the updates. My cousin Larry and his wife were amazing people. She is still around.”

Deb J. 

How Do You Support Loved Ones Battling Lung Cancer?

There is no single correct way to help and encourage a loved one with lung cancer. Everyone is unique and will have a different set of needs, which means not every method of support will be the right one. Whatever your loved one’s needs are, we hope that a few things on this list are helpful and bring some comfort.

If you have additional ideas for support, please share them with us. We’d love to hear your suggestions.  

  • Patty Plaskon

    All great ideas! Also – if the person is short of breath and has to run fans or an oxygen concentrator, their electric bill will be higher than normal, so offer to pay this month’s electric bill. This will allow them to use the air conditioning (or heat) to stay comfortable without skimping because they are worrying about the bill.