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An act of service is a great way to encourage a patient. Just think of all the mundane daily tasks that sap your time and energy. Now try to imagine accomplishing them with cancer! We’ve compiled some ideas to get you thinking. And don’t forget the caregiver, all of these ideas can be applied to them as well!

  • Partner with a friend. Have one of you take the patient/caregiver out to lunch while the other cleans their house or does their laundry. Be sure to ask if they are comfortable with this before you do it. The next week – switch!
  • Offer to drive or accompany them to treatments or doctor appointments
  • Take their car out for an oil change. Have it washed as an added bonus!
  • If you are a close friend or family member, offer to take down their credit card and bank information so you can take over paying the monthly bills.
  • Set up a calendar of rotating tasks (i.e. cooking, cleaning, laundry, babysitting) which you and your friends can volunteer for. Find examples here.
  • Offer to write or address thank-you cards.
  • Find out what kinds of foods they like and can eat (by contacting the caregiver) and do some grocery shopping/cooking.
  • Offer to put on your pajamas and bring over your dvd collection for a movie night.
  • Ask to take them out! Find somewhere that has motorized carts so they can enjoy getting out without sapping their energy.
  • Ask if they have a blog that updates their friends and family on their condition. If not, offer to start one. See here.
  • Utilize your creative skills to make something they can place in their room. Hospital rooms especially need this personal touch!
  • Purchase cancer awareness wristbands. Buy them for a dollar a piece and sell for two or three! Cancer care is expensive and any fundraising efforts will be much appreciated. To add a personal touch, have everyone who buys a wristband sign a card. This is a great way to involve the patient’s church, workplace or neighborhood.
  • If the patient is far away, take pictures of their friends and family. Have everyone hold a sign that has a personal message of encouragement.
  • If the doctor/hospital is in a downtown area, bring by a bag of quarters to help with meter parking for them and their guests.
  • DON’T buy plants, flowers or scented candles as many cancer patients cannot have these things.
  • After you find out what they appreciate, PASS IT ON. Spread the word so more people can help.
  • Do they have kids? Take the kids out for a fun day. Bring the kids’ favorite snacks to the hospital/home. Buy them handheld games for the waiting rooms.
  • Offer to research and find books about their specific cancer and its treatments. Here’s a good place to start:
  • Books
  • Websites
  • Note: Be sure to ask before you do this as some patients prefer not to read about statistics and treatments.