What can I say to a friend that is going through chemo?

This article will center on discussing what are things you can say to someone that is going through chemo. Aside from that, the article will explain what chemo is, and what are the emotional consequences of going through chemo.

What can I say to a friend that is going through chemo?

If you have a friend going through chemo, know that this can be an extremely emotional time. And saying the right thing is extremely important. Here are some things you can say to your friend going through chemo.

“I’m here for you” 

Telling your friend you are there for them can be one of the most comforting things they will hear. While they are starting chemo they can be so scared about how they will react. 

Not knowing if they will have a lot of side effects, and if the treatment will work, can put them in distress. Knowing someone is there holding their hand can make all the difference.

“I’m always thinking of you” 

Sometimes it may be hard to show people how much you care for them. And when they are dealing with chemo, it can be hard to think about what to say. 

Saying you are always thinking of them, or that they have been a part of your prayers is a way you can show them that even though you won’t see each other all the time, they are always in your mind, which can be comforting.

“This sucks” 

Sometimes, when going through chemo people can just feel angry because of all they are going through. Being by their side to tell them you understand how much this sucks will make them feel less alone in their anger. Having someone they can scream with can be a relief. 

“What can I help you with” 

Even though there are some basic needs a person struggling with cancer can have, it is always important to ask your friend what their needs are at that moment since it can change from one person to the next.

Sometimes they may feel like they want you to accompany them to chemo, but others, they can prefer to be alone, and all they need is for you to bring them some comforting food at the end of the medication. 

Keeping an honest and open space for communication will allow them to show their true needs, and for you to be with them in the best way possible.

“You are not alone” 

Cancer and chemo can come causing many changes in a person’s life. It can change the plans they had for their lives, make them feel alone, and even scared of dying. Telling them that they are not alone will let them know that this chemo battle is one they won’t face alone.

Knowing that can encourage them to go forward with the treatment, and make them face the difficulties with someone they love by their side.

“When can I visit you” 

It is extremely important to not only say you are day but be there in reality. If they start to experience intense side effects from chemo, they may need to stay home and focus on caring for their physical health. During that time, they may feel more vulnerable, and alone.

Calling them up and not asking if they want you to come, but saying that you are coming to visit, and just need to know when, shows that you are looking forward to seeing them, and want to be present in this trying time.

“Do you need company” 

Chemo is usually done on a trip to the hospital, for a day, in which your friend will stay there, sitting down, and receiving the medication for many hours. Asking them if they want company for that moment, or to a doctor’s appointment can make this process a lot easier.

“We can do something else”

When a person is going through cancer, and its treatment, they can feel like their whole life is based on that. So offering your friend a chance to do or think about something else can be priceless. 

You should just be careful so it doesn’t sound like you are not interested in their difficult moments. But tell them that, if they want, you can spend some time with them talking about completely different things. 

You can watch a show together, or do things that will still be possible for them, like going to a movie, so they can enjoy themselves.

What is chemo? 

Chemotherapy is a process that uses medication to treat cancer. The medication can be given through the patient’s veins, through pills, and there are also ones that can be done during surgery. 

The main focus of chemotherapy is to destroy the cancer cells, and because they usually grow and divide faster than regular cells, the medication will mostly kill the cancer cells.

But the medication isn’t able to identify what are healthy cells, and what are cancer cells. That is why people that go through chemotherapy can experience intense side effects that are feared by most people with a cancer diagnosis, such as the loss of hair, change in appetite, and loss of weight.

How can chemo impact my friend’s emotional well-being? 

There are many layers of the emotional impact chemotherapy will have on a person. The first thing that one should know is that getting chemo is immediately connected to having cancer, which can lead the person to feel extremely stressed, afraid, and even depressed.

But another layer to keep in mind is that, even though the diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming, knowing there is a treatment available, such as chemo can come as a relief, even if the treatment is sometimes too aggressive for the person’s physical health. 

Finally, the changes that chemo will bring to the person should be considered. Seeing yourself become more vulnerable, having many side effects to the medication, can shake the person’s sense of emotional well-being, leading them to fear for their health, the plans, and desires they had, and for their life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What can I say to a friend that is going through chemo? 

What I shouldn’t say to someone having chemo?

There are some things you shouldn’t say to someone going through chemo. The first thing you should avoid saying to someone that is going through chemo is that you know exactly how they feel. 

That is something that can lead the person to feel like what they are going through is not a big deal. Chances are, that even if you had cancer, you are not able to feel the same way they are. Each person has a different experience.

You should never tell them how other people managed the cancer treatment, and what were the outcomes. Although you may think this is something that can be helpful, it can just add to the pressure that they should behave in a particular way when dealing with chemo.

You should also never tell them that you think they are strong or brave. Even though you think this may be encouraging, this is also something that can make them feel even more pressured. 

Don’t ever tell someone going through chemo that they look different. Chances are they are going through many changes because of the treatment, and they may feel bad about those.

Telling them you are sure they will be fine is another way you may think it will be encouraging, but it can be extremely harmful. It is impossible to know that and saying it will make it harder for them to share how they feel.

What is remission?

When talking about cancer, remission is that moment in which the tests, physical exams, and scans show that the cancer is gone. Although some doctors may call this period remission, others will say it is the moment in which there is “no evidence of disease”, also known as NED.

A person will be considered in remission when the size of their tumor doesn’t grow back, or if it stays on the same size a month after the treatment is done.

But it is important to keep in mind that at this moment, the person is not cured. They will still do follow-ups, although they are more spaced between each other, to guarantee there is no trace of cancer in the patient’s body. 

That is why keeping to these follow-ups is important. If there is ever a new trace of cancer, you should discover it as soon as possible.

What are signs the chemo is not working?

If you are going through chemo, it may be it was prescribed to your doctor as a way to treat your cancer. But sometimes you may feel like it is not working as well as it should. There are some signs chemo is not working.

For example, if your tumors are not shrinking, or new tumors keep forming, it may be a sign that the chemo is not working as well as it should. Aside from that, when the cancer is spreading to new areas, or you keep feeling new or worse symptoms of it, it may be time to consider the benefits it is having on your treatment.

How does my doctor tell if the chemo is working? 

There are several ways that your doctor will use to assess if the chemo is working or not. Your doctor may use the physical exams, as a way to try and identify if there are any visible lumps, or if the lymph nodes have become smaller than they were before.

Blood tests can also be a way to determine how chemo is working. In that, your doctor will pay special attention to the count of red, and white blood cells, and platelets. Aside from that, they can ask you to do an MRI, or a CT, to see if the tumor has shrunk, or spread to other areas.

Some tests are tumor markers. Those will measure the number of cancer cells in your blood tissue, or your urine.

How long after I finish doing chemo will I feel better?

Although it can vary from one person to the other, the type of cancer, and the type of chemo, it is commonly said that you will feel better from all the chemo side effects between 6 and 12 months.


This article showed what you can say to people that are going through chemo. It also explained what chemo is, and how it can impact a person’s emotional well-being.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.