Two women hold up pink breast cancer ribbons to support a friend with breast cancer.

5 Ways to Support Your Friend Recently Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

By Trina Hooker, Healthy Otherwise

I have had several people reach out to me over the last few years asking what they can do to help their friend with Breast Cancer. This is always a tricky subject for people. We all want to help but what can you do? Even having been “the friend” myself, I still get a little tongue tied when trying to reach out to someone who I want to support. Am I saying the right thing? When I get to feeling like this I always try to remind myself of the ways people helped me and what stood out. For the most part, the words didn’t matter as much as the action. So, what are some ways you can show support or lend a hand?


1. Reach out but do not expect a response.

You just found out your friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and you want to reach out but is it the right time? Yes. It absolutely is. Go ahead and send a message – text, call, email, card – whatever you like. However, you may not get a response and that is okay. Your friend is likely too overwhelmed to find the words but will appreciate that you took the time to say something. If you feel like you do not know what to say, a short and simple “I love you and I’m thinking about you” at first is a good start. There is a long journey of healing ahead so starting simple is as good as anything and you can say more at a later time.

If you need a little inspiration for an initial note, text, or message, here are a few ideas I have:

“Oh Trina, I am so sorry to hear your news. I cannot imagine what you are going through or even what you are thinking at this moment. Know I love you and am here for you. I would love to bring you a meal soon. I will reach out to your Mom or Cahill to coordinate.”

“Hey Trina. I just talked with (person) and she shared your news. We are here for you and want to support you in any way we can. I know you are processing a lot right now. I’d love to start a meal train for you if you do not already have one set up.”

“Just wanted to say I love you and am thinking of you. I am here for you – whatever you might need. I know you may not be up to talking much right now but if you ever need to vent I am ready to listen. I’ll make sure to check in again soon. Love you.”

“Trina, I cannot know how this feels but I am here for you every step of the way. I have a friend who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year. She mentioned connecting with others was very helpful and I would love to connect you two if that is something you’re up for.”

If you know the person has strong faith I think it is okay to tell someone you are praying for them or send some faith based encouragement. However, these are situations that really make you question your God and something like “God has a plan” might not feel very comforting. You can feel out the response or communication from your friend and add it in at a later time when the sting of the news is not so fresh.

Something you do NOT want to do is tell the person about someone you knew who died from Breast Cancer or something similar. I know this comment might seem obvious but happened to me more times than you would think. Also try to avoid comments along the lines of “its all going to be okay”. You really do not know if it’s going to be okay and your friend in this moment absolutely does not think it will be okay.

By Charlie Mackesy

2. Be proactive and specific in your offer to help.

In my suggested comments above you may have noticed each suggestion includes what I am calling a proactive offer to help. “Let me know what I can do to help” is something we have all heard before. While it is a genuine offer, it is thoughtful but it is not helpful. This kind of offer requires the friend to come up with something they need AND to ask you for it. Asking for help is very difficult, especially if you are someone that truly needs it. So if you are interested in doing something or offering a service to someone do so in a way that the person does not have to initiate the action. Your friend is never going to reach back out for help. Be proactive in your offers to help and if you need a few ideas, don’t worry! Here are a few good ones:

  • Sign up on a meal train. If there is not a meal train, go ahead and create one (here) and help share it with others. It is free to create a Meal Train and it is easy to share. If you don’t know what kind of meal to bring, ask someone else in the household – spouse, parent, sibling, child – if possible.

  • If your friend has children, offer childcare. Take the child(ren) on a fun adventure and allow Mom to rest, have personal time, a night out, or you could just offer to be some extra hands at the house for a bit – change diapers, do dishes/laundry, pick up, etc.

  • Hire a cleaning person to clean the house.

  • Set up a laundry service like Hampr or Poplin and start a laundry fund.

  • If you know anyone else who has had Breast Cancer (hello, it’s me!) or can help connect your friend with a cancer community, ask your friend if she would like to connect with another survivor and help make the connection. Community is everything and the Breast Cancer community is incredible. Please feel free to Text me on WhatsApp or Email me. I would love to talk to your friend <3

  • Be a hospital buddy. Offer to go to appointments or chemo infusions with your friend.

  • Help communicate your friend’s needs to others. Most people who want to help have the same questions and answering the same thing over and over again can be tiring and overwhelming. Offer to sit with your friend and let her talk about what would be helpful or what people should avoid. Does she need anything? Is there something that makes her smile? Does she have any food aversions? What are some good options for the meal train? Take notes and send these responses around to close friends so it is easier for others to support also.

  • Check in more than once. There is usually a flood of support at the beginning but after the news of a diagnosis has faded the support around them tends to also fade. Your friend still needs to know you are there for them.

Art By Sarah Nilson – @justfrogetaboutit

3. Put together a thoughtful package.

Little goodies, no matter what age, are always fun. I loved the little care packages I got from friends throughout my treatment. For cancer patients, especially those receiving infusions, there is A LOT of time in the hospital. I have compiled a list of Breast Cancer Must Haves along with some fun items for a care package all available on Amazon here*. This list is not exhaustive though, have a little fun and get creative! It is meant to put a smile on your friend’s face. If you are on a tight budget, put together a list of book, tv show and movie recommendations – you could even watch some of the shows together.

4. Play FaceTime Battleship (great for long distance friends).

Yep. You read that right. This is another budget friendly one too. For under $10, you can buy a game of Grab and Go Battleship (Travel Size) and ship it to your house (this is important!) so you can keep half of the game for you and send your friend the other half (or you can buy two games, one for each of you, so y’all can play with other people if you want). Get in touch with your friend on their next appointment day or chemo day and set up a FaceTime Battleship competition!

There are several other ways to play games with your friends on your phone. has some good tips on how to keep your competitive spirit alive through that little computer in your pocket, especially in this post. But, to me, something about the physical game makes it feel a little bit more like y’all are actually together. However you choose to get your virtual board game on, know your friend will appreciate the company and distraction!

5. Throw a wig party.

Once I lost my hair, even though I had a wig, I felt like everyone I came in contact with knew I was sick. Maybe I fooled some people, but at the moment it really did not feel like it. A few weeks after I shaved my head my girlfriend had a birthday party. She planned a girls night dinner to celebrate and everyone was asked to wear a fun wig! This truly was a little God wink here. I had been feeling so self conscious about wearing a wig, this gave me the opportunity to not only have fun but to also “hide” in plain sight. For one night I could wear a wig and not have to be the cancer girl. So, for your girlfriend in the wig, throw a wig party. I would even suggest not telling her it is for her. Bachelorette’s love a good wig party which now means American GNO culture accepts wigs for all occasions worth celebrating. American GNO culture also loves an excuse to celebrate anything more exciting than rush hour traffic, so you can definitely come up with something. I know you have always wanted to know what you would look like with red hair. Life is for living. Throw the party!!

Four young women pose with wigs on at a wig party to support a friend with breast cancer.

I hope these are helpful little tips. There are several ways you can be supportive! Please do not hesitate to use the contact links above. I’d love to brainstorm with you or help you compose a message to someone you want to reach out to. More than anything, just keep showing up for your friend. They will remember you were still there even when it got hard.

This blog was first published on Healthy Otherwise by Trina Hooker and is republished here with permission from the author.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Cancer Care Services nor its staff. This information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a medical condition, nor should it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition, always seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professional

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