When a friend or loved one receives a heartbreaking diagnosis, it’s hard to find the words to say or know what to do to love and support them.

Today’s guest, Marissa Henley, has a unique perspective to share with us on how to support a friend with cancer. Marissa Henley is now cancer-free, but for several months her world was turned upside down with cancer treatments that took her away from her family made it impossible for her to care for her husband and three kids.

She tells her cancer story and gives us a lot of practical advice to empower women to confidently and compassionately minister to their friends with cancer.

I have sadly heard from other cancer survivors who hear me talk about this and they didn’t have that same kind of support I did. And it just grieves me so much to hear. I get that we’re all busy and it’s difficult, but I do feel like it’s so important for us as the body of Christ. This is part of our calling. If we belong to Christ, we don’t just belong to him. We belong to each other. I think it’s important that we try to foster relationships before these things happen and that we’re preparing to be the body of Christ that we need to be to those who are hurting.

She talks through different circles of friendship and how to determine what your role can be for a friend in need, tips for bringing meals and what to say (and not to say) to your friend with cancer. Marissa also highlights how key it is to ask God to show us what support role we can play for our friends before overcommitting or burning out.

And one thing that I have seen in my own life and over and over again with other friends is that the Lord really does provide and he provides in a lot of different ways. And usually he is weaving together this tapestry of support to provide for our friends needs and we’re just one thread. We don’t even necessarily see all the other threads that he’s using to meet those needs. So I think that it’s good to pray and ask the Lord what your role should be.

What we chat about:

  • Marissa’s history with cancer and her surprise diagnosis with angiosarcoma
  • Her prayer to beat the 5-year odds for her cancer
  • How Marissa had to move to another city to get treatment
  • The impact of her cancer treatment on her kids and what they remember now several years later
  • The support her friends provided to her family during her health struggle
  • Three circles of friendships: inner circle, middle circle and outer circle
  • Fostering inner circle friendships and being aware of the margin we have in our lives
  • Making specific offers of help with a time of day or specific tasks you can do to help is better than a general offer of help
  • Tips for going the extra mile when bringing a meal
  • Letting go of expectations of spending time with a friend when bringing them a meal
  • God provides a tapestry support for friends in need and we are just one small piece of that
  • Pray and ask God for what your role can be in supporting a friend to avoid burnout
  • Finding the right words to say to a friend with cancer and not letting fear to keep you from being present with them
  • When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
  • Ask, “How are you today?”

Connect with Marissa:


Links Mentioned:

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Verses that encourage:

Psalm 23, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 46, Psalm 56:8-11, Psalm 91, Psalm 121, Isaiah 26:3-4, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:1-2, Nahum 1:7, John 16:33, Romans 8:38-39, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Philippians 4:19, Revelation 21:1-5

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Not Alone Community-Calm Response Growth Guide

Do you struggle with using anger in response to your kids’ misbehavior? Would you like to grow in patience but don’t know where to begin? Well, I’ve pulled together several past podcast episodes and resources to help you.

And this month as a community member you’ll also get access to a mentor chat on the topic of anger.  Answering your questions about how to be more in tune with your emotions, figure out some common triggers and learn some techniques guests have shared on developing a calm response in parenting.

If you’re not a NAC member but want to join us for the chat…