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How do you support a friend who's been dx w/cancer


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How Do You Support a Friend (or Family Member) Who Has Cancer

1. Wait for your friend to bring up the details about a pathology report or staging. Don't ask questions; let him take the lead.

2. Refrain from asking about the prognosis or, after treatment ends, whether the doctors know if the treatment has worked. (They don't, only the safe passage of time will answer this question.)

3. Remember that saying things like, 'Anyone could be hit by a bus tomorrow.' is neither reassuring nor helpful.

4. Respect your friend's individual experience. Do not tell her about others who sailed through chemotherapy, or alternately, suffered each day of treatment.

5. Send cards, and e-mails and call often. You want your friend to know that you are thinking about him, and that he does not need to get back to you soon - or at all.

6. Call your friend if you are nearby or when heading out to run errands and ask is she needs anything.

7. Drop off a meal or do a carpool run or care for her children. A fabulous resource is www.lotsahelpinghands.com. This is a private way to organize useful help among friends and community groups online.

8. Offer to do something specific rather than saying, 'Call me if you need something.' And then offer again later.

9. Send a small care package occasionally. This can be bubble bath or a couple of cotton scarves or trashy novels or some other small treat.

10. Ask your friend if he would like you to visit or if, later, he might like to come visit you. Don't assume that you know the best time to get together or when he most needs company and support.

Be ready to be flexible. Most important, stay close. All cancer patients find that some so-called friends abandon them after a diagnosis. Cancer can last a long time, and people move on. Good friends are those who are with us for the duration, who listen carefully and who say 'I'm here'.

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