Top 10 Ways to Show Love to Your Cancer Fighter


I have been blessed with beautiful, supportive people in my life.  My family, my friends, and my community have shown me in so many ways how much they love me.  I want every cancer fighter to feel the love that I felt.  So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I listed my Top 10 favorite ways that I was shown love by so many special people in my life while I was battling pediatric brain cancer.  I hope these ideas will help you in the future show love to a fellow cancer fighter.

I have noticed that for some, it can be awkward at times to be around a person with cancer.  I know people don’t think cancer fighters have “cooties” or that cancer is contagious.  I know people don’t mean to keep such distance from us.  But they do.  I hope that if you know someone that is fighting cancer or fighting a life-threatening illness, that there are many ways you can show them your love and support. So, I created a list of ways to show love to someone with cancer.  Now, I am not an expert nor am I representing the entire cancer community.  But, I am an expert at what I went through with my cancer battle.  I hope this is insightful, kind of witty, and straightforward as well.

Top 10 Ways to Show Love to Your Cancer Fighter

1.Pray.  Pray with me, pray for me, and pray by my side.

2.Hugs.  Hug are great.  So are high fives.  It instantly improves everyone’s mood as well as very calming.  Such a great way to show someone you love them.

3.Sit by their side.  It is ok to just sit there and be by their side.  No need to feel obligated to talk, no questions need to be asked.  Just pull up a chair.  Or my favorite, when my mom would sit in the hospital bed with me.

4.Take a whiff of that.  A little smell that is only faint or brief can wreak havoc on someone battling cancer.  A whiff of a smell, aroma, or scent in the cancer fighter’s personal bubble is not good.  Please be considerate that when someone is on chemotherapy drugs, smells make them feel very nauseous.  I threw up.  I threw up a lot.  Food smells, perfume smells, flowers, and air fresheners can trigger me to throw up.

Don’t get me started on the gingerbread house that to me once use to smell like Christmas joy.  I could be the only one in the world this happen to, but during chemo, the smell of gingerbread instantly made me sick.  The smell of cigarettes is a really bad trigger as well.  Even if the cigarette smoker tries to hide it.  Let’s be honest, I can still smell it in on your clothes.  Every round of chemo, a smell that was once pleasant to me, the next time will make me throw up.  Go figure.  Ask about these triggers in advance.  Then if you could, please try to avoid them when you come to visit your cancer fighter.  I once almost threw up on someone’s shoes.  Just saying.

5.Play games.  Let’s play a game together such as board games or card games.  Or let’s find an activity that we can do together.  My body may not be able to get around like it used to, but we can still have quality time together and strengthen our bond.  Plus, it is fun and entertaining.

6.Slippers, pillow cases, and greeting cards.  I don’t want anyone to feel like they should bring a gift.  I just want to spend time with you and know that I am still in your life.  However, if you really want to bring an inexpensive, useful gift then I have an idea for you.  Slippers and pillow cases are awesome.  I spent most of my days in a hospital, so having a new pair of slippers to roam around the hospital hallways was pretty cool.  The colorful pillow case a friend got me once helped brighten up my hospital bed.  That was special as well.  I loved receiving greeting cards or homemade cards.  My family, friends, school and community sent me cards all the time. Loved it!  I loved getting cards and I would read each and every card over and over.  I cherish the cards and I still have them all to this day.

7.Talk about stuff.  Let’s talk about stuff other than my cancer.  Tell me what is going on with you.  I am sure you have things going on in your life.  My life is in a holding pattern and kind of boring.  Let’s talk the way we used to always talk.

8.Just hang out with me.  We can watch TV, we can watch a movie, we can just hang out.  Just simple and sweet.

9.Remote Control. If we are watching TV or a movie together, lets watch something we would both like.  I mean this in the nicest way, but maybe this time, lets watch what I am interested in.  If I am awake, I control the remote.  I don’t want this to sound to selfish but the remote is attached to the hospital bed that I am sleeping in.  Sorry adults, watching CNN in my hospital room versus watching “Impractical Jokers,” “Friends” or “Pitch Perfect” isn’t my idea of watching together.  Next time, I am hiding the remote or taking out the batteries.  But also, thank you to those that watched TV with me that made me smile and laugh.  Laughter is such good medicine.

10.Be comfortable around me.  I know I look sickly and frail.  I am very fatigued and probably look it.  My skin color looks pasty and pale.  I am so skinny with bony arms and legs.  I have a very gaunt face.  I don’t have my hair anymore.  This might even be the first time you see me bald.  I know I look very different than I used to.  But I am still me.  I am me on the inside and out.  I want you to be you.  Be yourself and be comfortable with me.  I love who you are, too.

Bonus.  I need to just say this one straight out.  I mean this in the nicest way.  This is the biggest favor you can do for me and any other cancer fighter. I just want to let you know a few things. I can Google.  I can search the internet.  My parents can use Google and search the internet too.  So please, don’t give us endless medical information, medical advice, or the latest and greatest cure for cancer you found on the internet.  Believe me, we probably already read it.  And trust me, we have spoken with doctors, nurses, hospitals, confidants, clergy, councilors, life specialists, nutritionists, and survivors, to name a few.  We have read so much on cancer, pediatrics, pediatric brain cancer, medicines, surgeries, protocols, statistics, outcomes, risks, side effects, anatomy, short term morbidity, long term morbidity, mortality, illnesses, disease, prevalence, incidence, and medical journals.  I know you mean well. But please, spare your cancer fighter and don’t do this.

I hope this list was insightful and made you laugh.  But I also hope it made you think about how you can help show love and support to your cancer fighter.

One last thing…

P.S. Please send this to cancer.

To cancer on Valentine’s Day:

BTW brain cancer, I am breaking up with you.  It’s not me, it’s you.  It is definitely all you.  I never really liked you anyway.  Just because we somehow got stuck together and you got in my brain, doesn’t mean I want to spend any more of my life with you.  You do not fit in my future or with my goals.  It is sooooo over and I pray that you (cancer) will disappear from the face of this earth for all eternity.  And stay away from my friends and family too.  We are not on a break (“Friends” reference).  You are nothing but trouble.  Sing it with me!  But, WE are never, ever, ever … getting back together (Taylor Swift reference)!  Drop the mic.

Jessica Meyer

Positively Jessica