Be Sensitive: Helping a Friend Cope with Cancer

friend with cancer

Having a friend who has cancer is as hurtful when you got it yourself. You want your friend to be healthy and to live longer, but it’s out of your hands. You can at least be a good friend and be there for them. One of the things you can advise them to do is to go to a camp for cancer patients and survivors. This can help them look at cancer in a different light. You can also do these other things for them:

Checking with Your Feelings

  • As it’s your friend who has cancer, your feelings are going to be shaky. You’ll feel a lot of emotions when you learn about their condition. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. This doesn’t make you weak. After that, be brave to be there for your friend.
  • Your friend may refuse to talk about their illness. Ask their spouse or family instead to learn more about it. This is not being nosy. This is being sensitive enough to know the details so you can help in any way you can.
  • Put yourself in the position of your friend. Think about how scared or angry they are. This way, you can look from their perspective and try to be as considerate as possible. Keep in mind that your friend’s physical appearance will change drastically. Don’t comment on that. Instead, focus on saying how you’re happy to see them. Find other things to say other than commenting on their appearance.

How to Act Towards Them


  • Respect your friend’s decision if they don’t want anyone to visit. With this, you should keep in mind to always ask before you visit: give advice or ask questions. You may also remind your friend that it’s okay even if their answer is no.
  • Your friend is still the friend you used to know. You can still make plans with them; just tell them in advance. Tell them you’re excited to do things together. Tell them that you are flexible with the plans so it’s okay to change the schedule or cancel if they’re not feeling it.
  • Your friend is going through a lot. You might want to make them happy. Allow room for humor and light conversation. On the other hand, you’re also allowed to feel sadness. Talk to each other what you’re feeling at the moment. Be open with one another.

How to Treat Them

  • Nothing should change between you and your friend. They’re still the friend you know. You can still talk about topics other than cancer. Talk about plans and dreams if you must. This can even be relaxing for your friend.
  • Stay updated with your friend’s condition. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Let them know you’re there to support them. Be there for them always. You can tell them you’re ready to listen and you want to help.
  • Tell them you care and you’re thinking of them. Don’t tell them you know how they feel because you’re not the one with the disease. Don’t tell them what to do and don’t tell them they will be just fine because they’re in a rollercoaster of emotions. Most importantly, ask how much time they have unless they opened it up to you.
  • Be gentle with your friend and always be there. Don’t be offended when they don’t feel like talking. That’s because they’re not feeling well. Just be there for them in any way you can. They know what you’re doing and they will appreciate your efforts.

Having a friend with cancer is saddening, but it shouldn’t change the way you treat them. Although you need to be more sensitive about the situation, your friend is still your friend.

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