When someone you love is battling cancer, it’s hard to know what to do. Thoughtful and sincere sympathy messages are wonderful. But cancer patients sometimes grow tired of earnest displays of emotion. Just because someone is sick, doesn’t mean they lose their sense of humor. The saying “laughter is the best medicine” might be a cliche, but it’s rooted in truth. (Although really, chemotherapy is the best medicine for most cancer patients.)
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Funny Messages for a Family Member With Cancer
- Funny Messages for a Friend With Cancer
- Funny Messages for a Colleague or Acquaintance With Cancer
- Funny or Uplifting Messages for a Loved One Going Through Cancer or Radiation
- Other Ways to Cheer Up a Loved One Who Has Cancer
When you’re fighting a disease, it’s important to keep your spirits up. Laughter can be a welcome distraction from the challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.
If you're deciding what to say when someone's sick, it’s important to keep in mind though that certain types of humor aren’t well-received by everyone. While some people may appreciate humor that’s a little dark, it’s important to keep things appropriate and not cross a line.
Struggling with an illness can increase people’s sensitivity for good reason. When in doubt, keep your humor light and temper it with a compliment. Keep reading for some funny and inspirational messages you can share with your loved one.
Funny Messages for a Family Member With Cancer
For better or for worse, your family members have a huge impact on your sense of humor. The environment you grow up in can shape the way you react to certain situations. There will be times when you and your family will grieve and struggle with a cancer diagnosis. But there are also times when you’ll laugh at the situation. When that happens, you can use your shared language of humor as part of the healing process.
Here are some silly messages you can share with your loved one. Try to put a smile on their face with some humor.
1. “Dad, I know that it wasn’t easy for you going bald in your thirties. But on the plus side, now you don’t have to worry about losing your hair during treatment! I know you hate hair loss jokes, but I’m going to keep making them. I know you would hate for me to treat you differently just because you’re sick.”
2. “Sis, I know you’re stressed out about losing your hair, but look on the bright side. Nothing could look worse than the haircut you got after you got gum in your hair in fifth grade. That bald spot was epic.”
3. “Mom, I know you always thought my collection of colorful wigs was silly. Who’s silly now? But don’t worry, you can borrow any of them.”
4. “I remember when we were in high school and you used to threaten to beat up my boyfriends if they mistreated me. The overprotective big brother thing used to bug me, but now I’m happy. Because I know you’re going to use that combativeness to beat cancer.”
5. “I’ve been trying to think of positive things to say about your upcoming mastectomy. The best thing I can come up with is that you’re going to save a fortune on bras. Seriously, I know this is going to be a huge challenge for you. But I hope you know that you’re still going to be a beautiful person inside and out.”
6. “I know you’ve been talking for a while about taking an extended vacation to spend time with the family. We wish you were taking a break from work under better circumstances! Even though we hate the reason, we’re so glad to be here with you right now.”
7. “I decided to take a sick day today to stay home and hang out with you. I know I’m not the one who’s sick, but since we’re related I figured it would be close enough. We can do whatever you want.”
8. “When we talked about you retiring early, this isn’t exactly how I pictured it. Let’s focus on getting you well so your retirement can be a little more traditional.”
Funny Messages for a Friend With Cancer
Friends are the family you choose. Your strongest friendships are likely with people who share your values and your sense of humor. These are a few samples of things you can say or write to a friend as they battle cancer. Be sure to put your spin on the note to make it right for the person and circumstance. If you decide humor isn't the best route, check out our suggestions for positive messages for cancer patients.
9. “I know I used to complain when you dragged me out to all those cardio kickboxing classes. But now I’m glad you did. With your upper-cut and my roundhouse kick, I know that we are strong enough to kick cancer’s butt together.”
10. “I bought you these healing crystals. I don’t think they actually do anything. But they’re pretty, and they make great weapons. I thought you’d appreciate that.”
11. “I was just thinking about how we used to sneak around and smoke weed during lunch period back in high school. Now we can start again and do it right out in the open! I know you’re the one with cancer, but I’ll do it too. You know, to give you moral support. It’s the least I can do.”
12. “I’m sorry about all the side effects of your cancer treatment. Being so sick all the time sucks. On the plus side, I bet chemotherapy means you won’t have to shave your legs as much? So that’s cool.”
13. “Nineties fashion is very in right now. Try not to feel sad about losing your hair. We’ve always talked about how you’d work the riot grrrl look. Here’s your chance!”
14. “I know you said you wanted to start dressing up more. My bad, I assumed you meant evening gowns and not hospital gowns.”
15. “Want to hear a terrible joke? Okay, here we go. ‘Did you hear about the bee who had a tumor? Don’t worry - it was BEE-nign.”
16. “How many cancer patients does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, but they have a big support group cheering them on. We’re all here for you!”
Funny Messages for a Colleague or Acquaintance With Cancer
It’s sometimes easier to joke with friends and family members about serious subjects like cancer. It’s harder to know what to say when in your office is sick. There’s nothing wrong with a little gallows humor when you know someone well. But that kind of humor is best reserved for people you are close with. Here are some sentiments that are both funny and work appropriate.
17. “Our weekly conference calls are still painfully tedious. But I know they pale in comparison to what you’re going through. We’re looking forward to having you back in the office. Listening to those calls isn’t the same without you rolling your eyes and making faces.”
18. “I know you’ve been dealing with a lot, but you’ve missed out on a lot of excitement at the office. We’ve finally caught the notorious lunch thief! It was Joe from accounting. He tried laying low for a while. But he just couldn’t resist the siren song of Sue’s leftover brisket.”
19. “We miss you around the office. That being said, we’ve noticed that no one’s leaving the empty coffee pot on the burner anymore. We always suspected you were the Coffee Bandit and this confirmed it for a lot of people.”
20. “I never realized how annoying all our other coworkers were until you weren’t here every day. I want you to get better soon because I care about you. But I also want you to get better so I don’t have to deal with everyone else by myself anymore.”
21. “The boss has finally realized that Mike was always taking credit for your work. With you being absent, everyone’s noticed that Mike doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’d say I wish you were here to see it unfold, but if you were here it wouldn’t be happening.”
22. “It turns out I’m a lot more productive when you aren’t in the office to entertain me. I hate being productive. Please come back soon.”
23. “The ladies from accounting who go power-walking at lunch keep trying to get me to join them. I need you to come back so we can eat candy and pretend to be busy.”
24. “I know we complain about how cramped our cubicle is. But it feels kind of lonely in there without you invading my personal space. Looking forward to you coming back.”
Funny or Uplifting Messages for a Loved One Going Through Cancer or Radiation
They say that laughter is the best medicine, but that’s not entirely true. When it comes to cancer, radiation is often the best medicine. Unfortunately, cancer treatments can often feel worse than the disease itself. This is where laughter comes in handy because it can provide a distraction from painful and uncomfortable side effects. Try sharing funny or uplifting messages like these to cheer up your loved one.
25. “If you didn’t want to come to my wedding, you could have just said so! You didn’t have to go through all of this. I didn’t think the bridesmaid dresses I picked out were THAT bad! Seriously though, just focus on getting better. Seeing you healthy again is the only wedding gift I want.”
26. “They say that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. I don’t know if there’s a big enough spoon to make this treatment more palatable. Maybe a ladle would work better? In the meantime, I brought you your favorite smoothie. I know you’ve had some difficulty eating, so I hope this helps a little.”
27. “I remember when you used to hold up the thermometer to a light bulb so you could pretend you had a fever to get out of school. I was hoping this was a scheme you had cooked up to get out of work! I wish you weren’t going through this, but I’m here to support you in any way I can.”
28. “I’m sorry that chemo has been so hard on you. I haven’t seen you this sick since college. At least then, you got to have a fun night at the bar before suffering from nausea! Once you beat this, let’s go out for a drink like we did in the old days.”
29. “I know you have been talking about slowing down and working less. I just wish this wasn’t the way it happened! Did you wish on a monkey’s paw? Sometimes it seems like the universe has a terrible sense of humor.”
30. “You’ve always been the strongest person I know. I keep hearing people telling you that you should be strong through this. I want to reassure you that you don’t have to be the strong one this time. We can help you carry the burden.”
Other Ways to Cheer Up a Loved One Who Has Cancer
Cheering up patients with funny or positive expressions of love is a great start. But actions speak louder than words. There are so many ways you can offer concrete and practical support to loved ones battling cancer. Here are just a few:
31. Say it with flowers
Many cancer patients have to isolate themselves indoors because their immune systems are compromised. Being cooped up in this way can be incredibly difficult. Setting up a regular delivery of fresh flowers is a great gesture. It brings nature indoors, lets your loved ones know that they’re on your mind, and provides a pop of color to brighten their day.
32. Organize a meal train
Many cancer patients struggle with their appetite, particularly when undergoing treatments like chemotherapy. But their families still need to eat. Taking the burden of meal planning and shopping from their caretakers will benefit the patient, even if they can’t eat the meals themselves.
33. Provide entertainment
What many people don’t understand about cancer recovery is that it can be kind of boring. There is a lot of downtime where you feel too sick to move, but there’s a limit to how much you can sleep. Here are a few ways you can ease their boredom:
- Pay for streaming services that they don’t have access to so they have new shows and movies to watch.
- Send them books in their preferred genre so they can have a little escape.
- But fun arts and crafts that they can do from their bed - cross-stitch and crochet are very trendy right now, but you also can rarely go wrong with a swear word coloring book.
34. Stay in touch
When people are diagnosed with cancer, people often hesitate to reach out because they don’t want to impose. They assume that the patient will reach out to them if they’re up for it. Unfortunately, that can end up making patients feel even more isolated. So keep the communication going in whatever way feels right. That could mean setting up a regular recurring date for a phone or video chat, or just sending funny memes throughout the week to make them smile.
As an additional note, it’s essential to make sure these conversations remain balanced. Some people avoid the topic of cancer because they don’t know what to say. Others will make it the main topic of every conversation. Cancer doesn’t need to be ignored, but it also shouldn’t define the patient’s existence, so do your best to strike a happy medium.
Messages To Help Cancer Patients Smile Through Their Fight
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s easy to feel like the world has stopped. But life does go on, even during your hardest struggles. Humor can soften the blow of a cancer diagnosis and provide some sense of respite.
Worried about causing offense? You can bring in some humor without cracking jokes. There are plenty of things that explore the challenge of a cancer diagnosis through the lens of humor. Have a movie night with comedic dramas like 50/50 and Other People. Or listen to Tig Notaro’s iconic standup comedy album Live. It was recorded four days after her diagnosis of stage 2 cancer. It is raw, real, and laugh-out-loud funny. Taking time to watch or listen to these silly dramatizations may help you find the humor in your life situation.
It’s okay to be funny even when you’re sad and scared. Sometimes that’s the best time to be funny. Levity and normalcy are two of the best gifts you can give to cancer patients.