20+ Things to Write in a Sympathy Card for Terminal Cancer


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If someone you know has terminal cancer, you might want to reach out in support. Whether it’s your close friend, a family member, or only an acquaintance, letting that person know you care can go a long way. 

But what should you write in a card for someone with terminal cancer? It’s not often that you write this type of card, so you may not know where to begin. Below, we’ll provide examples of sympathy messages you can write in a card for someone who has terminal cancer. 

Gifts to Pair with Your Message

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You can use one or more of the messages below as-is, or take inspiration from these examples to create your own heartfelt card. 

Tip: If someone in your life is facing their own mortality, they might worry about the complex tasks their family will face when they're gone. Knowing that their family members have a post-loss checklist to work through may help. 

Example Messages for a Close Friend with Terminal Cancer

Example messages for a close friend with terminal cancer image

Learning that your close friend has terminal cancer is heartbreaking. You don’t want to see your friend struggle with illness,  and you don’t want to lose someone so special to you. One of the best ways you can cope with this grief, and help your friend cope with theirs, is to reach out with a sincere written note.

If you're not able to see your friend in person, they might appreciate you sending them a vase of fresh-cut flowers or a gift box with tasty treats they can share with their family.

Here are some examples of what you can say. 

  • I can’t stop thinking about you and all you must be going through. Let me know if you need anything at all.
  • Thank you for being the kind of friend I strive to be. Your support and strength have meant the world to me.
  • You’re the strongest person I know, and the best friend I’ve ever had. I know you need space right now, but I’m here if you need to talk.
  • You’re always in my thoughts, and I’m so grateful to have had you in my life.
  • You know that all of us are your biggest fans, and you’re never alone. 
  • You’re my hero. You’ll always be one of the smartest, funniest, kindest human beings I’ve ever known.
  • I hope you know that you’re deeply loved, and I’m so proud of you. I won’t be offended if you can’t talk, but I’ll come running if you call.
  • You’ve always been there when I needed you, and now I’ll be there for you. Please know you can lean on me if you need to.
  • You’re still the same amazing person I know and love.  If there’s anything I can do to make life even a little easier, don’t hesitate to call me.
  • You won’t believe what happened today… (Talk about your life. Sometimes, a person with terminal cancer just wants to return to normalcy for a little while.) 
Share your end-of-life wishes, just in case.

Create a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and instantly share your health, legal, funeral, and legacy decisions with a loved one.

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

Example Messages for a Close Family Member with Terminal Cancer

Sending a card to a family member with terminal cancer can be even more difficult. A family member could be one of your best friends, or they could be someone you haven’t seen in years. 

Either way, sending a card to a family member with terminal cancer can let them know they’re in your thoughts. Feel free to add in a prayer for someone with cancer, quotes, or inspirational messages, too.

Below are some examples of messages you can include in your card to a family member with terminal cancer. 

  • Our family wants to say that you’re in our thoughts, and we’re sending you love. We hope you’re finding as much comfort as possible.
  • I wanted to reach out and let you know how much you mean to me. I hope you won’t feel pressured to reach out, but know that you can call me anytime.
  • You’re on my mind and in my heart. I’ve often thought of you when I needed to find strength in times of hardship.  
  • I was just thinking about how much I admire and look up to you, and I wanted to reach out to let you know.
  • I just saw the most beautiful sunrise, and it reminded me of you. I wanted to send some loving thoughts your way today. 
  • The moments we’ve spent together have been some of my most precious memories. Thank you for being in my life!
  • I’ll always remember the time we spent together… (describe a memory that will bring a smile to the person’s face.)
  • You’ve made such an amazing impact on my life. I wanted to thank you for being an incredible person.
  • You’ve been on my mind every day, and I wanted to send you some comforting thoughts.
  • You’re such a beautiful person and an inspiration to everyone in our family. Your strength has made an impact on me that will last forever. 
» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how you can make it easier for them

Example Messages for an Acquaintance with Terminal Cancer

If someone in your life has terminal cancer, but you don’t know them very well, you might not know what to say. You can still reach out with a sincere card, letting that person know that you’re thinking of them. 

But a card for an acquaintance with terminal cancer will be worded differently than one for a family member or friend. 

If you need the inspiration to write a card to an acquaintance with terminal cancer, you can use some of the ideas below. 

  • We don’t know each other all that well, but I’ve always thought you were an awesome person. Thank you for being in my life.
  • I don’t know if you remember this, but one day at work, you told me… (share something that made you smile or encouraged you in some way.)
  • Your smile has helped me get through some of the toughest days. Thank you for being there.
  • You’ve always lent an ear when I really needed to vent. If you need the same, don’t hesitate to call me any time.
  • Whenever I need strength to get through a difficult situation, I’ll think of you for inspiration. 
  • Thank you for everything you do for us all. The office has not been the same without you.
  • You might not know it, but you’ve made my day countless times. Just the way you crack a joke can break me out of the worst mood. Thank you for being amazing.
  • We all miss you and wish you were here. But most of all, we hope you’re finding comfort and joy in the company of family and friends.
  • You’re easily one of the bravest people I’ve ever met, and I don’t know how you do what you do. I’m so glad to know you.
  • I heard the funniest thing today, and it made me think of you. (Share a funny anecdote that will make the person laugh.)  
» MORE: It's time to focus on what really matters. Use these tools to help.

How to Write a Card to Someone with Terminal Cancer

Writing a card to someone with terminal cancer image

When or someone you know has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may find yourself at a loss for words. That’s normal, and it’s nothing that should make you feel ashamed. 

With that said, there are a few sentiments you might want to stay away from. For example, a “get well soon” card isn’t appropriate for someone with terminal cancer. Additionally, if you want to send a message with religious tones, make sure it matches the recipient’s beliefs, too. 

Here are a few more tips for composing your own card for someone who has terminal cancer: 

Take note of how he or she is coping with the prognosis

There are numerous ways in which people cope with their mortality and come to grips with knowing the end is near. 

Try to determine whether the person is in denial, fully accepting the prognosis, or somewhere in between. Then, you can adjust the tone of your letter to match.

Say thank you

One of the most meaningful things you can say to someone at the end of their life is, “Thank you.” As you’re writing the letter, reflect back on your relationship with this person. 

Try to think about how they impacted your life for the better. Then, write a sincere thank-you to your recipient for making your life a better one. 

Share a memory

At the end of their life, your card recipient likely wants to look back on the times they’ve shared with others. 

They would most likely love to reminisce on a joke, meaningful event, or anecdote that you remember fondly. 

Should You Write a Card to Someone with Terminal Cancer? 

If you’re having a hard time thinking of what to say, you might feel like giving up and not sending a card at all. But writing a letter to someone with terminal cancer is almost always worth the work. 

In most cases, a person with terminal cancer will understand your difficulty in expressing your condolences. Just knowing that you were willing to try can be enough to brighten that person’s day.  

Plus, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you said what you wanted to say, and you let that person know how much you care. 

If you're looking for more ways to comfort a loved one, read our picks for gifts for terminal cancer patients, children's books that talk about cancer and books on grief.

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