When Your Friend Has Breast Cancer
Article date: October 9, 2012
Even with cancer as an all-too-common household word, we are often unsure of what to say – or, equally important, what not to say – when someone we know is diagnosed with breast cancer.
So what to do? Here are some tips from American Cancer Society Director of Survivor Programs Greta Greer, MSW, LCSW:
- If the information isn’t confidential, let her know you've learned about her diagnosis and have been thinking of her.
- If you sincerely wish to help, let her know that, too. Offer to prepare a meal, take her to appointments, pick up the kids, etc. Sending cards, flowers, or small gifts also can show support.
- Keep communication simple: Just let your friend know you care about her.
- Be a good listener. Watch for cues that she wants to talk about her cancer. If she doesn't want to talk, respect that choice.
- Do the same things together you used to before the cancer diagnosis.
- Communicate with touches, smiles, and warm looks.
Meanwhile, it’s better if you don’t:
- Tell your friend she looks sick.
- Tell her about people you know who died or have terrible side effects from cancer.
- Say, "I know how you feel." If you have not been in the same situation, you really don't.
- Become overprotective. Whenever possible, encourage normal activities.
- Fail to show concern and offer support.
- Dismiss fears and concerns ("Don't talk like that! You're going to be just fine.").
If your friend asks your opinion about her illness, treatment, or treatment outlook, be open and honest, but don't try to answer questions if you don't know the answers. Be yourself and be sincere. That’s all anyone can ask.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
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