My Friend Has Cancer?! – What Do I Say

My Friend Has Cancer?! – What Do I Say

Hernan Barangan | September 18, 2020

Talking to a friend with cancer can be intimidating, stressful, and even awkward. It is often hard to find the right words to say, but remember, your friend feels just as unsure as you about what to do or say.

The My Friend Has Cancer?! video series by Hernan Barangan offers strategies for friendship during cancer, with specific examples from survivors’ and friends’ real stories.

The Sensitive Stuff

In addition to cancer, your friend may be worried about specific and sensitive issues such as body image, social media, dating, sex, fertility, school, and work, missing out, finances, and fear of recurrence or dying. There is no doubt that life will be different after diagnosis and treatment in many ways than before.

Embrace the silence

Bottom line: Let your friend with cancer bring up the sensitive topics—directly or indirectly. Listen with an honest and open frame of mind. Share in your friend’s joy, and be with them in their fear. (Don’t try to solve it.) If you don’t know what to say, embrace the silence.

Keep in mind that cancer is an individual experience. Everyone’s different, and no one size fits all.

Follow their lead

Bottom line: Follow the lead of your friend with cancer. Listen openly, and don’t be afraid to apologize if you think you’ve screwed up. Even if things get tough, awkward, or boring, be there for your friend. Not just in the beginning—your friend with cancer needs your support throughout treatment and beyond.

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