My 32-year-old friend just found out she has cancer. What’s the best thing I can do for her?

–A.C. (United States)


Well, you might want to start by asking her what she needs from you. Probably the most helpful thing you can do as a friend, however, is just to be there for her and to listen.

Often, when someone is diagnosed with cancer or some other serious illness, the people around them are in so much fear, it’s difficult for family and friends to really be present for that person because they’re either dealing with their own emotions about the news or popping out of their bodies to avoid feeling their own feelings during this difficult time. Just create a space to be with her and to listen. Let her say whatever she feels and don’t feel like you have to keep her from saying certain things like she’s afraid or sad or that she’s going to die. Just listen and hear what she has to say and keep on loving her and showing up for her, especially when the hubbub of initial activity and responses from others starts to peter out over time.

Also, be sure to take time out to care for yourself first if you’re going to be helping her out on any kind of consistent basis.

She’s lucky to have a caring friend like you.

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