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What to say to a friend with cancer

Melisa1221
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2010

Several years ago, I met someone online whom I now consider one of my best friends. We've never met in real life, but have used each other as sort of an open diary, telling each other the most intimate details of our life that we were afraid to tell anyone else. We also condoled each other when life got tough, and I know she's helped me get through some rough patches in my life. She's just hit me with a bombshell: she has cancer. Now, I have no idea what to say to her. I've never had anyone in my life deal with this disease. She hasn't told me much about it. All she's told me is the doctors found tumors in her lungs, she's on chemotherapy and her white blood cell count is too low for her to venture outside. She mostly tells me how depressed she is over this and for the first time I have no idea what to say to her. I've told her how much I care for her and will be there for her in any way I can but I feel like she needs to hear something better from me, who knows her better than most people she sees in real life. Does anyone have any idea what I could do for her?

zinniemay's picture
zinniemay
Posts: 534
Joined: Mar 2009

I am surpised everyday at the people in our lifes who, when you say you have cancer they do not know what to say.So they say nothing, We still need to hear things , Telling her you are there for her is a very good start. listening to her. Sounds to me you are on the right track. Just lead with your heart. The rest will follow.

ms.sunshine
Posts: 710
Joined: Mar 2010

You are doing fine. Just stay in touch. E-mail her, text her, mail a card.
I remember when I was in chemo my sister texted me "I'm here" that meant everything to me. Another time when I was seeing my onc. my husband was running late. He burst thru the door sat next to me took my hand and said "I made it" that was the best thing he could have said to me at that time. My brother texts jokes to me, and they always make me laugh.

GregStahl
Posts: 188
Joined: Apr 2010

for her, listen, let her yell, cry, scream, etc.
Do not say things like...I know how you feel, I know what you are going thru, and the one I hate the most are the people that tell me about some distant relative they never met who had cancer so they know exactly what I am going thru.

Being there and listening is the best thing.
Greg

SueRelays
Posts: 489
Joined: Dec 2009

This might help! I think it nails it!! I agree with everyone though. Just BE there! i have had a friend or two that didn't know what to do/say and kind of checked out on me. THAT is the worst.
Blessings to you and your friend!!

http://healthbeat.yourtotalhealth.com/2009/06/5-things-to-say-and-not-say.html

dixiegirl's picture
dixiegirl
Posts: 1043
Joined: Apr 2006

Honey it's hard and cancer seems to take the words away.

Find humor, share humor, laughter, good stuff.

You are doing everything you should. I wish you and your friend the best of luck!

Take care,
Beth

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Melisa. First let me say that you should like a wonderful friend to your friend with cancer just by being there for her. Keep that up for sure. I have known many, including myself, who have had friends become so uncomfortable with cancer that they just drift away instead of trying to deal with it and continue to support their friends. That's the worst thing you can do.

I would tell her that you will always be there for her whenever she needs to talk to you but one think bothered me a little in your post describing her and that was when you said 'depressed'. Cancer patients, especially ones that have been just diagnosed, can get into a real clinical depression and they need help to get out of it, possibly with the use of anti depressants just til they get over the rough patches - like diagnosis itself. You might watch her and if you can't see the depression lifting you might want to talk to her about seeing a psychiatrist to have them run a depression test on her. Tell her that if she likes you will go with her to the appointment - that might help her and might get her there earlier.

Depression can be controlled with proper input by professionals so there is no reason not to at least run her situation by a good psychiatrist who might be able to help.

Hopefully your friend has moved through depression by now and again, keep up the good work, you sound like a great friend to have.

Also tell your friend about this site, lots of people here who can talk with her as well.

Take good care. Blessings, Bluerose

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