Our Parents
Senior Health
Senior Living Options
Finances & Legal
Products for Seniors
About Us
A pink banner with the OurParents logo

Ways to Help a Loved One with Breast Cancer

Written by Kristen Hicks
 about the author
11 minute readLast updated April 10, 2023

It’s a sobering statistic that 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In fact, after skin cancer, it’s the number one diagnosed cancer for American women. But knowing it’s common doesn’t make it any easier when it strikes someone you love. When that day comes and someone you care about is dealing with breast cancer, it can be hard to know the best way to help out and show your support. If you’re struggling to figure out the right move to help a loved one with breast cancer, here are a few options to consider.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

10 Gift Ideas for Breast Someone Who's Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

You can find loads of pink breast cancer themed gifts, but your loved one’s probably already getting offered a lot of those. There are things you can offer that will be more useful or meaningful than one more pink ribbon t-shirt (not that there isn’t a value to those, too).

Spa Day

A spa day or massage is a great gift for someone who’s been through a hard time. Being handed an excuse to relax and be pampered will always be appreciated. Make sure the gift allows them plenty of time to schedule the day at their leisure though. If you get a gift card from a spa with a quick expiration, they may have a hard time getting there in time.

A Year of Gratitude Kit

Sometimes one of the best ways to feel better is to actively think about the positive contributions other people have brought to your life. The Year of Gratitude Kit includes 52 thank you cards with the idea of devoting a little time each week to showing someone you care about your appreciation for them.

Lace Up for the Cure Activewear

The recent trend of gifts that give back extends to some of the shoes and activewear sold by New Balance. Their Lace Up for the Cure line gives a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research. Since exercise and healthy living are good goals to pursue when recovering from an illness like breast cancer, these gifts can do the double duty of encouraging healthy habits.

Breast Cancer Gift Basket

Breast cancer gift baskets are a smart choice because they collect various items your loved one needs into one convenient gift package. You can buy pre-made ones from sites like  Healing Baskets and Just Don’t Send Flowers. Some of these are put together by survivors or others familiar with the effects of breast cancer, so they include gifts particular to what your loved one will need and want during their recovery process.
You can potentially create a more meaningful gift though by putting together a homemade breast cancer gift basket personalized to what you know your friend likes. If you know their favorite candy or that they love hot tea, you can collect items you know they’ll be happy to have around.

Mastectomy Pillow

There are special-made pillows that can make your loved one more comfortable on the ride home after a mastectomy and during the healing process. They’re designed to provide comfort under your arms and across your chest. If your loved one doesn’t have one yet, this may be a good, useful gift to consider.


Assuming your loved one is a reader (if they’re not, go with #7 instead), then some books to keep them occupied through their time in the hospital and recovery can be really appreciated. Make sure to stick with the types of genre they normally prefer and consider if you know of any favorite authors they have.

Entertainment Subscriptions

When you’re sick, one of the most comforting ways to spend your time is on the couch watching TV. Give the gift of a TV subscription. Netflix or Hulu can provide nearly endless hours of entertainment for someone recovering from breast cancer.

Donation in Their Name

For many people, the experience of struggling makes them realize how important giving is. A donation to a cause they care about – whether it’s breast cancer research or something else you know is close to their heart – can be as appreciated as anything else on this list.

Miniature Art

Something small, light, and beautiful that your loved one can easily take into the hospital with them can give the something pleasant to make the dreary space a little more comfortable and colorful. There’s mini art on Etsy that’s specifically for breast cancer survivors, but you can also browse print options for artists you know your loved one likes to try to find something that can easily be made portable that they’re likely to love.

Box of Encouragement

Another Etsy-inspired idea, this Box of Encouragement is filled with little scrolls that each include a line of encouragement for the recipient. It’s a gift that continues to give little by little over a number of days and serves as a reminder that you’re thinking of your loved one each time they pull out a scroll to read.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

9 Service-Based Ways to Help

Objects aren’t the only type of gift you can give. Sometimes offering your time, such as helping out at home, can be even more appreciated.

Plan an Experience Together

A physical item won’t provide the same quality time and memories that planning a special experience together does. Think about what your loved one really enjoys doing – or something you’ve enjoyed doing together in the past. Is there a restaurant in town that’s a particular favorite? A city nearby that makes for a great weekend trip? A comedy show coming up they’d probably love?
If you want to be able to hand them an item, print up a nice invitation to the event you have planned. Be flexible on the when as much as possible though, you don’t want your gift to end up adding any stress to their life.

A Day of Chores

You know how sometimes when you’re tired or stressed or not feeling well for any reason, the one thing you really want is for your house to be be clean and your dinner to be cooked. You just want all those day-to-day tasks that constantly need to be completed to go away for a little bit.
Offer to help out. Give the gift of a day spent doing all the chores your loved one has been dreading dealing with. It will almost certainly mean more to them than a present that comes gift-wrapped.

Homemade Food

Food is a standard gift during times of sickness for good reason. We all have to eat, but making meals requires energy your loved one may not have. Before bringing anything over, ask first. A lot of people will probably be thinking the same thing and it won’t do your loved one any good to receive 10 casseroles in the same day that will all go bad within a week. But once you’ve checked in, bring over one of their favorite recipes or offer to cook it with them as a way to spend some time together.

Run Errands for Them

Necessary errands like getting groceries, going to the post office, or getting basic car maintenance done can be a pain on a normal day, but for someone dealing with breast cancer treatment they’re that much more tiring. So offer to take some of that off their plate.

Write Letters

If you’re like most people, it’s probably been a long time since you received a handwritten letter from a friend, but remember how nice it feels when you do? There’s nothing quite like it. So try to bring back the habit. Even if you’ll be seeing them in person too (but especially if you live far away and won’t be), sit down and write a letter sharing some of your thoughts, feelings, and your support for what they’re going through.


Obviously, this one only works if your loved one has kids, but if they do, it can be a big way to help them out. Offer to give them some time off from taking care of their kids. Whether they want a chance to go out or stay in and watch TV in peace without interruptions, you’ll be making it possible for them to spend some time in the way they most see fit.

Walk Their Dog

If your loved one is a dog owner, keeping up with the walks their dog needs is likely a struggle. See if you can’t swing by to take the dog out now and then. It takes one more task off their hands and the dog will get some well-appreciated exercise.

Help with Paperwork

If you’ve been sick in the United States, you know the experience comes with a whole complicated level of bureaucracy patients have to navigate. Help them make sense of the bills and other paperwork they receive from the doctors and insurance companies. Oftentimes, people end up overpaying because the system’s so complicated that it’s hard to understand what you’re paying for. A friend willing to review the paperwork and help to dispute medical bills can save breast cancer patients a load of money and stress.

Regular Check-ins

We’re not always good at guessing what someone needs most at any given moment (hence survivors sometimes finding themselves with 10 casseroles at once). The best way to find out what your loved one really wants is to ask. Check in once every week or two to see how they’re feeling and how you can help. Maybe they’ll just want some company or maybe they’ll send you off on errands. More than anything else, it will remind them that you’re there and thinking about them.

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Recommend a Breast Cancer Support Group

You can do everything in your power to be there for your loved one and still not really be able to understand what they’re going through. The opportunity to get the perspective, advice, and information from someone who has “been there” can therefore be of immeasurable value. That’s what makes support groups so valuable, they’re a safe space for breast cancer survivors to share their experiences, vent, and connect with others that are going through the same thing.
Your loved one may not need a support group. They’re usually most helpful for people who are comfortable with sharing their emotions and experiences in a group setting. If your loved one is comfortably able to share with family and close friends and seems to be getting everything they need emotionally from the support of those they already know, then a support group may not add anything they’re missing. But if the support you and their other loved ones offer doesn’t seem to be getting them as far as they need, then it may be worth helping them find the right support group for them.
Breast cancer support groups cover a wide range of specific topics, and many have a specific focus such as those that connect people by:
  • Age
  • Stage of treatment
  • Recurrence
  • Type of treatment
  • Other topics like fear of recurrence, etc.
  • Family, friends, and caregivers of cancer patients
  • Survivors who have completed treatment

How to Find a Support Group

Support groups are often hosted at hospitals, churches, community centers, or private residences. There are also options available for one-on-one counseling over the phone or in person. And in today’s socially connected world, excellent support can be found online in the form of message boards and digital communities. Check out the Susan G. Komen or American Cancer Society websites to find support near you.
Remember that there is no right and wrong in how people deal with breast cancer. That makes it complicated to know exactly what your loved one needs – what worked for someone else won’t necessarily be right for them. All you can do is show up, let them know you support them, and figure out the best ways to help as you go.
With the understanding and compassion of loved ones, the fight against breast cancer can be made a little less lonely. Just knowing there are people around who care and want to ease the pain can help make a difficult burden like breast cancer feel a little lighter.


Meet the Author
Kristen Hicks

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.