Tips: Talking to a Friend With Cancer

With more than a million new cases of cancer being diagnosed each year in the United States, sooner or later most of us will get the distressing news that a family member or friend has contracted the disease.

We then face the dilemma:
What do we say to a cancer patient?

Here's a short list of advice:

1. Ask how he/she is doing.

2. Ask what the person has.

3. Ask what the treatment is.

4. Talk openly and honestly.

5. Be a sensitive, compassionate and empathetic listener.

6. Be prepared for the person who doesn't want to talk about it then. Tell them, "I just want you to know I care."

7. Look your friend in the eye when talking. Smiling, touching and warm looks all convey affection.

8. Ask how you can help. Be specific: caring for the children, preparing a meal, a ride to the doctor's office, running errands. Ask your friend to make a list of specific things that need to happen and then coordinate with other friends and family members to accomplish those things.

9. Include your friend in activities.

10. Remember other family members; they often need support and friendship as well.

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