When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, you feel unsure of what to do. The news is devastating, not only to them and their family but to you, as well, as their friend. You’ll wish that you could change or fix things, and make cancer disappear. You experience a range of confusing, painful emotions that complicate the news for you. It’s important to remember that your reactions are normal in these circumstances. Almost everyone experiences similar kinds of thoughts and feelings when a friend is diagnosed with cancer. Here are three of the most common, and ways to navigate them.
You might feel some guilt after your friend is diagnosed because you start to think about yourself and your family instead. While your head and heart filled with thoughts for your friend, cancer also seems nearer to home. As you research his or her condition, you’ll find statistics on how many people get cancer during their lifetime. This only adds to your fears. You feel selfish for thinking of yourself and your family. However, a reaction like this is normal. Remember to not let fear consume you. You might feel better looking into general cancer prevention measures, such as eating right, losing weight, and exercising on a regular basis. If weight has always been an issue for you, you can use supplements like humanpro to help maintain a healthy weight. If your sudden urge to protect your family gets you exercising and eating better, it could pay off in the long run.
It often feels impossible to know what to say when a friend is diagnosed. You may want to say something like, “I know how you feel,” or “How long do you have?” Responses like these are not helpful, and they are often painful for your friend. The best thing you can do is to not behave as if anything changed. Take your cues from them. If they want to discuss their diagnosis, be there for them. Don’t treat them any differently than you did before the diagnosis. The last thing they want from their friend is special treatment, or behavior as if they’re on their deathbed. Also, don’t be afraid to meet your own grief needs with other friends, since you’re dealing with a blow, too.
More than anything, you might feel a desperation to fix their circumstances, if just a little. While there’s nothing you can do to take away their cancer, there are a few things on which you can focus. Taking some action helps you feel better. Organize a group of volunteers, and coordinate meal drops off, rides to a treatment facility, such as the New Jersey state-of-the-art treatments and cancer care services, and cleaning days, so your friend can focus on recovery. Offer to sit in with them before and after chemo, for both moral support and an extra pair of listening ears. Whatever your friend needs, offer it to them. Be willing to accept “no” as an answer, but give anything you can, if they ask.