Being one year cancer-free is undoubtedly worth celebrating. If your loved one recently passed that significant mile marker, it’s time to have a party. Show your friend or significant other you care by making a favorite food, decorating the house, and inviting friends over for a shindig.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Party Ideas for Someone Who’s Celebrating One Year Cancer Free
- Gift Ideas for Someone Who’s Celebrating One Year Cancer Free
- How Else Can You Honor a Loved One Who’s One-Year Cancer-Free?
- What to Say: One Year Cancer-Free Message and Card Ideas
- What to Say: Popular One Year Cancer-Free Quotes to Share
Some people become very close with the members of their medical team when going through cancer treatment. You may consider inviting a favorite chemo nurse or oncologist to the party. After all, your loved one will no longer be seeing that medical professional at regular appointments and they were integral to your friend’s survival.
Party Ideas for Someone Who’s Celebrating One Year Cancer Free
Survivor parties are a celebration of life, so any life-affirming theme would be appropriate for your party. Here are some ideas for themes, decorations, and activities.
Perhaps you don’t want to wait a year to have a party. Some people have a party as soon as they have recovered from their last chemo or radiation treatment. Most of these themes would work for a “last treatment” party also.
Regardless if you are hosting a “last treatment” party or “survivor” party, make sure the party is full of positive messages for the cancer patient. The party may also act as a message of hope for someone who is currently going through treatment.
Get our free checklist for navigating loss 💙
Enter your email to get your free roadmap for the steps after loss in your inbox.
1. Knock-out party
If the survivor is comfortable with the “fighting cancer” imagery, you may consider using a boxing theme at the celebratory party. Gather as many boxing gloves as you can for decorations.
Make boxing glove-shaped cake pops. Create a photo booth that looks like a boxing ring. Make sure to purchase a silk boxing robe for the guest of honor to wear.
2. Color party
Everyone knows that the color pink is associated with breast cancer, but you may not know that most cancers are assigned a particular commemorative color. The color gray is associated with brain cancer, and colon cancer is dark blue.
Create a party using the appropriate color as a theme. Invite your guests to a “Pink Party” for a breast cancer survivor or a “Purple Party” for a pancreatic cancer survivor. Ask guests to wear the appropriate color, and try to match the decor, drinks, and food with the theme.
Purchase a colored boa or top hat for the guest of honor to wear.
3. Surprise party
You could also host a surprise party! Even though you don’t want to spoil the surprise, you may try to plan the party so your loved one will be well-dressed. Survivors sometimes put their appearances on the back burner while undergoing cancer treatments.
They may be ready to have others see them looking their best again.
4. “Survivor” party
Most people are aware of the long-running reality show, “Survivor.” Use images and themes from the show to create a cancer survivor party.
Decorate the space with a jungle motif, including vines and tiki torches. Serve kabobs and drinks in coconuts. Make a tribal council sign to use for a prop in the photo booth.
5. Black-tie party
Most people don’t dress in formal attire very often. Why not host a black-tie affair for your loved one’s survivor party? Most cancer patients get tired of wearing hospital gowns and PJs. Hosting a formal event would allow them to look their best once again.
6. Give cancer the boot
Have a hoe-down and encourage guests to wear boots, cowboy hats, and western wear. Decorate tables with gingham tablecloths and serve barbecue, potato salad, and beans. Hire someone to teach others to line dance or square dance.
Hire a mariachi band to play at the survivor party. Serve burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and margaritas. Create a cancer-themed pinata and let the survivor whack on it.
8. Fundraising party
Perhaps you would like to use the opportunity of celebrating being cancer-free to raise money for cancer research.
Sell tickets to the event and have all the proceeds go toward the American Cancer Society or other cancer-related organizations. You may also want to support local organizations that serve cancer patients.
You don’t need a theme for a cancer survivor party! Blast life-affirming music, fill the space with balloons and serve simple and delicious appetizers. Have attendees sign a poster that reads, “I didn’t do this on my own.”
Gift Ideas for Someone Who’s Celebrating One Year Cancer Free
If you have been invited to a party for a friend who is now cancer-free, you may wonder what type of gift to bring. While being cancer-free is gift enough, it would be nice to commemorate this achievement by bringing some token that shows you care.
You can look on lists that show small gift ideas for friends, but since cancer survival is rather a big deal, you may consider a more elaborate or time-consuming gift to commemorate the achievement. Here are some ideas.
10. Memory book
Create a DIY memory book for your friend. This gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it may take a long time to put together.
Show pictures of you and your friend through the years and include a heartfelt letter saying how much your friendship means to you.
11. Survival clothing
It shouldn’t be too challenging to find survival shirts or hats from online retailers. You should also be able to find pre-made articles for each type of cancer, but you could consider personalizing the item as well. Your loved one will wear his or her survival clothing with pride.
Download your free end-of-life plan.
Enter your email below to get your free checklist in your inbox.
12. Gym membership
Did your friend let his gym membership lapse? If so, consider purchasing a membership at your workout location. Invite your friend to work out with you to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
You want a gift that screams “CELEBRATE!” Why not purchase a bottle of champagne for the survivor? Pair it with a “survivor” champagne flute.
Look for survivor jewelry for your friend. Consider a bracelet that your friend can proudly wear every day.
15. Gift card to a clothing store
Your friend may not wear the same-sized clothing after going through cancer treatment. Help your friend restock his or her wardrobe by purchasing a gift card to a favorite store.
16. SCUBA certification
Is your friend anxious to knock off some bucket list items? Consider helping your friend achieve some of these goals by purchasing a gift certificate for SCUBA certification. Since this is a great “buddy” activity, sign up to get certified at the same time.
17. Hot air balloon ride
Going up in a hot air balloon is a great life-affirming activity. This may also be an item that your friend has on his or her bucket list.
Make sure you are there at the take-off and landing point to take photos and a video of the event.
18. Spa treatment
Your friend is probably ready for a little pampering after undergoing cancer treatment.
Give the survivor a gift certificate to your favorite local spa. Let your friend choose the spa activity since not everyone is comfortable with every type of service. You can read our guide on relaxing gifts for some more ideas.
19. Photo calendar
Since you are celebrating the gift of time, it is appropriate that you would create a personalized calendar for your friend that shows the number of days that he or she has ahead to enjoy.
Add a weekly or monthly date with you to the calendar to show that you are excited to spend time with the survivor.
Many people don’t think about the emotional ramifications of receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment.
Your friend may be looking for a way to express these complicated feelings. Give your friend a beautiful journal to give them a place to plan, dream, and reflect.
21. Tote bag
Your friend may want to share his or her survival story with anyone who will listen. Offer a survivor tote bag to give others a message of hope.
Your gift doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Simply give the survivor a beautiful bouquet of his or her favorite blooms. Perhaps you can even pick them from your garden. Giving flowers or plants is a beautiful way to show that you care.
How Else Can You Honor a Loved One Who’s One-Year Cancer-Free?
The recent pandemic put a pause on large indoor gatherings — especially for those who were immunocompromised. If throwing a party for your friend who is a cancer survivor isn’t possible, here are some other ideas on how to honor them.
Get weekly reminders to live life fully.
We'll send inspirational quotes directly to your inbox.
23. Create a team for a cancer walk/run event
Runs and walks are perfect fundraising events. They promote a healthy lifestyle while raising money for cancer research. Consider creating a team to honor your survivor. Make customized t-shirts for the event.
24. Donate your time to a cancer charity
Many different charity organizations assist cancer patients. Consider donating your time to one that is important to you. You might be asked to gather items for a charity auction, make blankets for those undergoing chemotherapy, or send care packages to those currently fighting the disease.
25. Help them with household tasks
When initially diagnosed with cancer, your friend or family member may have been overwhelmed with support and encouragement. Though, that support may have fallen away after a few weeks or months. Even though your friend is on the road to recovery, they may still feel the physical effects of the disease.
Consider helping them with household tasks until they regain their strength and stamina. For example, clean their bathrooms, wash their kitchen floor, do their laundry, or mow the lawn.
26. Help your friend check off bucket list items
Your friend or family member may now be inspired to complete their bucket list goals. This may mean they will need a travel companion. Or they may want someone to accompany them on Scuba lessons or on trips where they reconnect with an estranged family member.
27. Support them in their spiritual journey
Some people who face death become inspired to grow in their faith. Consider walking along beside your friend on this journey.
28. Schedule a fun photoshoot
Your friend’s looks may have changed following their fight with cancer. Show them that they are still beautiful by booking a professional photoshoot. You might invite friends and family to participate, but make sure the survivor stands out in the photos.
29. Go to a spa
Pamper your friend or family member with a trip to a spa. Book rejuvenating activities, wear fluffy white robes, and drink cucumber water.
30. Write a letter to your friend
Why do we wait until someone dies to speak nicely about them and tell them how we feel? You have been given a second chance with your friend, so don’t waste it!
Keep reading to be inspired on what to say in your letter.
What to Say: One Year Cancer-Free Message and Card Ideas
You may like the idea of sharing a heartfelt letter with your friend who recently battled cancer. However, you might feel strange knowing what to say. Here are some examples to help you get started.
- I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your Caring Bridge updates over the last year. Even though it should have been me encouraging and supporting you, I feel that it was the other way around.
- I am so happy to be able to write this note to you on your first anniversary of being given the all-clear. You are an important part of my life. Even though we don’t share the same taste in music (ugh, country!), and we come from very different backgrounds, I think of you as my closest friend.
- You may not know this about yourself, but you have a fantastic knack for putting people at ease. Your calm and gentle spirit radiates off you, and people can’t help but be drawn toward you. This was especially apparent when you were going through chemotherapy.
- Some of my best memories revolve around my time with you. No one can make me laugh as you do.
- We have been through so much together — family drama, breakups, career struggles, and fertility issues. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without you.
- Twenty-three years ago this month, Mr. Burns assigned us as chemistry partners. Who would have thought that that random choice would have resulted in a life-long friendship? Even though we both sucked at chemistry and had to retake the following year, I am so thankful for Mr. Burns.
- You are a beautiful human. You have an amazing, loving spirit, and I am proud that you are my friend.
- I’m sorry I wasn’t more present during your cancer battle. The truth is that I was scared. I was worried that I would say the wrong thing to you, and I didn’t think I could handle seeing you cry.
- As I have aged, I realize how lucky I am to have you as my mom. I know we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but I always knew that you would be there for me when things went wrong. I love you!
- I have learned so much about life from how you have lived yours. Thank you for being someone I could look up to and providing me with a positive role model.
What to Say: Popular One Year Cancer-Free Quotes to Share
Print these quotes on your cancer walk t-shirt. Share them in a letter you write to your favorite survivor. Post them on Facebook and tag a friend. Of course, you can also simply read the following quotes to be inspired to live a good life.
- “My motto is the same as my blood type. B positive.” – Cynthia Nelms
- “In times of joy, we all wish we had a tail we could wag.” – W.H. Auden
- “It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.” – Nancy Thayer
- “Life is better than death because it’s less boring and there are fresh peaches.” – Alice Walker
- “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
- “To be healthy, wealthy, happy, and successful in any and all areas of your life you need to be aware that you need to think healthy, wealthy, happy and successful thoughts twenty-four hours a day and cancel all negative, destructive, fearful and unhappy thoughts. These two types of thought cannot coexist if you want to share in this abundance that surrounds us all.” – Sidney Madwed
- “When praying for healing, ask great things of God and expect great things from God. But let us seek for that healing that really matters, the healing of the heart, enabling us to trust God simply, face God honestly, and live triumphantly.” – Arlo F. Newell
- “Nothing . . . refreshes and aids a sick man so much as the affection of his friends.” – Seneca the Younger
- “In health we should continue to be the men we vowed to become when sickness prompted our words.” – Pliny the Younger
- “Being a cancer survivor is like being shaken in a kaleidoscope. You grasp for your bearings, desperate to find your balance amidst the chaos. When the dust finally settles, there is a new constellation of colors that are magical and beautiful.” – Renee Exelbert
- ” Once you see the world through the cancer lens, you realize how many people are going through challenges and that you are never truly alone.” – Cynthia Hayes
- “Cancer recovery is hard work. Life is hard work. And it really pays off. Hang in there.” – Helen Szablya
- “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined. Don’t let cancer cause you to sell yourself short or forget your worth.” – Unknown
Tell Your Friends How Much You Care
While throwing parties and giving gifts is a perfect way to celebrate your friend or family member, don’t forget to tell your friend and family member how much you care. Write a heartfelt letter or explain how much the patient means to you in person.
Unfortunately, many people only share their feelings after a person dies. Instead of writing all the good things about your friend for her eulogy, why not tell her how amazing she is while still living?