A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, regardless of the outlook. The news can also be hard on friends and family, as they struggle to figure out what they can do to help a loved one after the diagnosis.

Beth Pauvlinch, who wrote about caring for her mother who lived with cancer in her book Two Women 1Disease, said various gestures, no matter how small, can go a long way for someone dealing with the illness. Small actions and encouraging words can mean more than you think.