My Friend Has Cancer?! Part 4 – And I Really Screwed Up

You said something you thought would make your friend feel better, but the look on her face says…. No. You want to crawl into a hole. Or blow it off and just spend your time with people whose lives are easier. Don’t. It’s normal to make mistakes. Everyone does, especially when dealing with something as difficult as cancer. Bottom line: Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Keep showing up, and ask how you can do better. Your friendship is worth it.

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.

About Hernan Barangan

“I was 15 when I went through treatment for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Somehow I beat it – but I felt so much was wrong about my experience. Things that could have helped other young people survive were missing.

With hopes that I could improve the cancer experience for others, I started making short films about it. I wanted to show other patients that they are not alone — and to show the world that there are young people fighting cancer all around them. But I knew that in order to do this, I would have to hit the road. So I packed up my gear and set out on a trip that would take the next year of my life to complete.

I went to all 50 states, drove 25k miles of road, and collected 28TB of footage. But more important than that – I met 90 great people who I now call my friends. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I enjoyed this journey.”

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My Friend Has Cancer?! Part 2 – What Do I Say

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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