When you find yourself in situations where you have to be with someone who is undergoing a tough ordeal such as cancer, the topic is quite hard to talk about.
The path to this trying times is easily achieved when you would really respond from your heart and mention the condition in ways that might feel comfortable for you and to your friend in need.
Here are some ways on how you can support a friend with cancer:
Process your own feelings
Processing your feelings beforehand can give you the edge to focusing on having a normal conversation with your friend rather than ending up feeling sorry for the situation. You need first to acknowledge and cope with the situation before you see your friend. You can do this by carefully taking the time to learn about the diagnosis and think about the situation from your friend’s perspective. This way you can be a better listener and confidante.
Oftentimes, people who have been diagnosed with cancer would feel aloof and would want to separate themselves from other people. It is important that you are sensitive enough to ask the permission of your friend before you give advice, visit, or even ask further questions. Make it clear that it is totally okay to say “no” when he/she doesn’t feel like it.
Check on them
Remember, you are a friend; no matter how busy your schedule is, you need to make time for a check-in phone call. Ask your friend if he/she is okay, but if he/she does not answer, make sure to also tell your friend that it’s perfectly alright and that you wholeheartedly understand the situation.
Allow for sadness
Talking through the heart requires for every person to allow sadness to be a part of the process. Ignoring uncomfortable topics or feelings would not give space for the person to feel more attuned with the support that you want to convey. Listening without judgment is a good way to allow your friend to release sadness because he/she will be comforted that someone is empathizing with his/her emotions.
Treat them the same
Always make sure that your friendship will remain intact. Treat your friend the same way that you always have. Don’t let the situation get in the way of your friendship. Open up topics that are not totally related to cancer such as hobbies, interests, past good memories, etc. Being normal around him/her would at least give your friend the chance to have a break from talking about the disease and the constant medications involved with it. Your friend needs you more than ever! Giving supporting words and being present could go a very long way.
Cancer can be intimidating, and it can bring such paralyzing fear, especially when the person involved is very close to you. Remember that it is better to say, “I don’t know what to say,” to your friend rather than totally cutting communication out of fear.