How to Write an Encouraging Letter to Someone With Cancer: Step-By-Step

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When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to know what to do to help them. There are so many practical ways you can step up and show that you care. You can organize a meal train so their family doesn’t have to worry about planning or making meals.

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You can drive them to treatments. You can volunteer to babysit their kids. But sometimes the best thing you can do is help encourage them. We all need to hear uplifting words when we’re struggling through something like a major illness. 

A positive message for cancer patients is always appreciated. One great way to achieve this is by writing an encouraging letter. Here, we break down the steps of writing a letter to uplift and empower a cancer patient in your life. We’ll also include a few sample letters to inspire you to craft a letter of your own.   

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want To Say

There are many ways you can approach writing an encouraging letter. You can use it to enumerate the ways you and your community plan to rally around your loved one.

You can list the attributes your loved one possesses that will aid them in their fight. You can use heartfelt emotion to appeal to the letter’s recipient. Or you can go the lighthearted route and craft humorous words of encouragement for cancer patients.

Take the time to figure out what kind of letter you want to write and what tone you want to bring to it.   

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Step 2: Set Up a Good Writing Environment

When you’re writing an emotional letter, you want to get yourself in the right headspace. A big part of that is creating the perfect environment. You want a place where you can feel relaxed enough to tap into everything you want to express. But you also want to create a space where you can be productive. 

The ideal workspace will vary from person to person. Some people prefer absolute silence when they write, while others enjoy background music. Some people like to type their letters, while others prefer handwriting it. Some people enjoy writing in natural light, while others like to set up mood lighting.

Set up a workspace that will allow your creativity to flourish. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or some herbal tea. Center yourself. Then you’ll be ready to really get started.   

Step 3: Open By Stating the Purpose of Your Letter

A good letter should open by expressing the writer’s motivations. This lets the recipient know what to expect. The opening line or two should briefly and succinctly sum up what you hope to achieve.

Step 4: Speak From the Heart

Writing a letter of encouragement can be intimidating. It requires a level of vulnerability. It may be tempting to keep yourself removed from it.

You might be tempted to find professionally-written words like inspirational quotes or poems about cancer and share those with the cancer patient in your life. But a letter of encouragement has much more of an impact when it comes from the heart.

It’s okay if your words aren’t as smooth and polished as a professional writer might make them. Your emotion and personal connection will make up for anything that’s less than perfectly expressed.     

Step 5: Be Personal and Specific

When you’re writing a letter of encouragement to someone who is fighting an illness, you want to appeal to something inside of them. This means you need to tailor your message to resonate with them. Get specific with your friend and family member.

You can celebrate their strength and their fighting spirit. You can remind them about the people in their lives who have their back. You can help them recall other challenges they’ve overcome in their lives. The more personalized your letter is, the more encouraging the recipient will likely find it. 

Step 6: Make it Special

Could you sit down and knock out a quick email of encouragement to a loved one? Of course! But there’s something special about taking the time to sit down and write a letter by hand. Pick out some beautiful stationery and break out your best penmanship.

Then mail the letter or hand-deliver it. Invest time in making your letter special and gorgeous. It will become a treasured keepsake as well as a message of empowerment.   

Step 7: End on a Positive Note

Above all, a letter of encouragement should be uplifting and inspiring. You want to motivate the patient in your life to fight.

Ending on a positive note is a great way to help the cancer patient in your life feel inspired and energized.  

Sample Letters of Encouragement to Someone With Cancer

Now that you know how to write a letter of encouragement, check out these examples for inspiration to help you get started.

Letter one

Dear Mom,

I’m writing this letter to let you know how proud I am of the way you’ve been handling your cancer diagnosis. I know you’re probably feeling scared and overwhelmed right now. But as always, you are bringing such a positive attitude to your struggle.

I know things haven’t always been easy for us. You were a single mom left to raise three young kids all on your own. You worked crazy hours, and fed us and helped us with our homework. And all that time, you never let on how difficult things were. We didn’t know how hard our childhood was. We never saw how much you worried about putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads.

Here’s the thing: I know that you will be strong throughout your battle with cancer. After all, you’ve always been the strongest person I know. So I want you to know that I have no doubt that you’ll bring that same fighting spirit to this. But I also want you to know that you don’t have to be strong. When you are having times that you feel afraid or angry, you don’t have to hide that from me. You’ve always been one to carry a burden on your own. This time, let me help you shoulder it. You won’t have to go through this journey alone.

As always, I love you and am awed by your strength. Thanks for being the best mom in the world.

Love,

Megan

Letter two  

Dear Phillip,

I just wanted to write you this letter to touch base with you about your recent diagnosis. I know being told you had cancer was a huge curveball. I know it felt like it cut me off at the knees, so it must be incredibly disorienting for you. I just want to let you know that we are going to get through this together. 

When we got married, we threw out some of the traditional vows. Sorry, I love you, but I’m not going to obey you and you know that. But we kept the part of the vows that talk about being there for each other in sickness and in health. You were there for me when I was in the process of being diagnosed with lupus. And now I am going to be there for you while you go through your cancer treatment.    

Ever since you and I got together, we’ve always been a team. I worked two jobs to put you through grad school. You supported me during all the problems I had with my family. We’ve overcome so many challenges together. This is just one more challenge that we will face—and overcome—together,

I love you, and I can’t wait to help you beat this!

Love,

Mary

Encourage a Cancer Patient With an Uplifting Letter 

When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, it’s hard to know exactly what to say. But it’s worth taking the time to put your feelings into words.

Channel all your get well wishes and send a letter of encouragement to a cancer patient in your life. Your words may help inspire them and give them strength even as they fight for their life.  

Looking to do more to support a loved one through this hard time? Read our guide on how to support a loved one with cancer.

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