News from Illinois CancerCare

No Visitors? No Problem!

In times of societal stress, it is only natural for humans to seek out and support each other as families, friends and communities.

Recommendations from the CDC to safely distance from others is difficult even in the best of times. Cancer patients are among those at high risk of serious illness from an infection as their immune systems are often weakened by cancer and its treatments. It is important that caregivers also take precautions to lower their risk of getting COVID-19.

So, how can we show support and love towards the cancer patients in our lives? We have a few suggestions to get the creative juices flowing…


    Who remembers the doorway cue card scene from the 2003 Christmas-themed, romantic comedy Love Actually? In this scene, one character tells another how he feels by showing cue cards, one at a time, from the doorway…easily a safe six feet of social distancing away. This doesn’t need to be romantic – it can also be funny, heartwarming, supportive and entertaining. Just make sure your message is large enough and easy to read, and give your reader plenty of time to take in each word before moving to the next card.
    As the weather gets warmer, why not enjoy the outdoors together… from a safe distance? Comfortable outdoor seating can be set up for grandparents to enjoy grand kids playing in the backyard or for friends to enjoy the same sunset.
    Windows can be a great way to get close, but stay safe. Surprise your loved one with signs, choreography or just a smile. You could even utilize walkie-talkies or baby monitors to hear each other through a window or door.


    Maybe you have seen homemade hearts in windows conveying the “all in this together” movement. For years, yard decor has been used for surprises on big birthdays or welcoming new babies. Thoughtful decorations can be as simple as poster board signs or cut out letters and will most definitely make your honoree feel special.
    There is something extra special about receiving a handwritten note, and some of us have more time to put towards that writing now. If you have the stamps, you could surprise your loved one with a “card-a-day for the month of May” or something like 50 days leading up to their 50th birthday.
    Ask friends and family to email or text personal video messages for your patient and string them together with a user-friendly app like Google Photos or iMovie. This can be inspirational messages for each day of treatment or celebratory messages in lieu of a party.

Video conferencing is not just for the workplace anymore. Apps such as Zoom allow you create social gatherings online for free. What can you do on these calls?

    This can be done with a little ingenuity on any of the video platforms (think charades), but there are also apps for that. Houseparty is an app where you can easily play games of trivia, charades and quick-draw with friends all over the world. Invite friends and family to download the app, set a time, put out some snacks and let the fun begin!
    You can still enjoy drinks or a meal together – virtually. If you want to get the conversation started, an idea is to take turns asking the 36 Questions That Lead to Love. These questions were published in the NY Times after being used by a psychologist to study if intimacy can be accelerated between people using questions (it can). This does not need to be reserved for couples. In a group, one person can share the question and everyone else can take a turn to answer.
    Relive school days by picking a week with friends or family to have a theme every day. Share photos with each other over text message or email. Ideas like Funny Socks Day, Favorite Color Day or Wacky Wednesday allow everyone in the household to participate.

With a little creativity, you are bound to come up with additional ways to support the cancer patient in your life. The truth is even though it is not recommended to touch each other, there are still many ways to touch each other.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”