What Support Through Cancer Looks Like To Me

What does support look like? I’ve taken too long to answer this awesome question that I’ve been asked so many times. As the journey has continued to unfold, I’ve learned support really comes down to this one concept. 

On any given day, support means that my hardship, struggle, messiness, or pain isn’t too much for you to handle.

I wonder how many of us have believed the lie “we are too much.” I sure have. We feel we can’t be real because what we are going through will be too big a burden on others. It will hurt others, often those we love most. So we don’t ask for help, we say “we are fine” when sometimes we aren’t, we press on with our nose to the grind because we don’t want to inconvenience or trouble anyone else.

If supporting me means that my hard isn’t too hard for you, then what does that actually look like and mean day-to-day?

margarett and kris hansen

Margarett Hansen and her husband Kris


Support is two-fold.

Well, it’s two-fold. In part, it means that you are self-aware enough of your own heart, well being, and limitations; to know what you can and cannot handle or offer. And that’s not for me to determine. For me, it means asking specific questions like, “how are you, TODAY?” “Is it a good day or a hard day?” If it’s a good day, we rejoice! If it’s a hard day, and you have the capacity to offer assistance, a great follow up question is, “Do you have what you need in this moment?” Or “Is there a need I can fill today or tomorrow?”

If you can’t help because of distance or you’re also running at your max capacity, which is totally fine too, then simply acknowledging my struggle and saying, “what is hard about today?” and listening or saying, “I am so sorry you’re going through this.” is enough. We both know you can’t fix it. Ultimately, don’t we all want to be heard, seen, and known?

Things that were unhelpful

I have experienced people projecting their own issues on me too. This is NOT helpful. I had several conversations that went something like “thank you for the offer. I know I will need help, but I don’t know what that looks like yet. I will ask for help when I know what I need.” I personally felt dishonored because some people assumed I couldn’t/wouldn’t ask for help after confessing it was because they themselves had a hard time with it. I think this goes back to not wanting to burden others.

What would have honored my heart would have been to say, “I know you have a lot going on, when you know what kind of help you need, please let me know.” Or even better, “I’ll check back in on you and see if you have a better idea of how I can help you through this season.” Stop and think about asking a better, more specific, or intentional question.

Helpful support

Some offered support by sharing their own cancer journey or reaching out to friends who had been through it. They asked those with first-hand knowledge for wisdom and passed it along. I found this to be really helpful to prepare and anticipate what was ahead since everything is a new experience!

Now I am in active treatment, and I have a much clearer understanding of what I need from week to week. Chemo weeks, meals are really helpful! I’m in bed most of the week. I couldn’t tell you this in the beginning. I didn’t know. Around days 7-10 post-chemo, when I’m feeling better, I enjoy cooking for my family and doing normal things again! Help with the kids is also incredible! This is a harder need to fill, I realize.

I love the messages, the packages, Bible verses, and encouraging quotes! This is all supportive too! Come sit with me and chat while I’m laid up resting. Share what’s going on in YOUR life. I want to know your heart too. Healthy relationships are give-and-take. I may not be able to give as much right now, but I can listen, and I still care about YOU!

I hope in sharing my heart and journey it helps you support others that may be going through a hard time in their lives. I realize what may be helpful for me may not be helpful for others. Sometimes it’s best to honestly ask your struggling friend or family member, “What is NOT helpful for you right now? Answering this is sometimes easier than answering, “What can I do for you?

With much love and hope,

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