One of the things I realized when I had cancer was how uncomfortable many of my friends were when they found out. I found myself having to comfort them. It can be hard on everyone involved. In this article, I want to talk about two aspects of what to say when a friend has cancer. They are the person with cancer and the person close to them.
When a person has cancer they need to talk to someone. Some people will and some people won’t, but as a friend you need to be available for them to talk. As I was writing this article some great principles came to mind. I think these principles will be very helpful in knowing what to say to a friend who has cancer. They are:
1. Get Yourself Together – What people with a cancer diagnosis need most is someone they can lean and depend on. This can manifest itself in someone with whom they can talk or it could be someone to whom they have confidence in. Regardless, you need to be strong because friends who are not strong both in word and deed could be a problem.
2. Do More Listening, Than Talking – Most people who hear about a person having cancer don’t know what to do. Many times they either don’t make contact with the person or say the wrong thing when they do see them. I am reminded of one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Seek First to Understand, Than To Be Understood. If you listen first, you will find out that it provides you a better understanding of the situation and a greater platform to say something that could be beneficial.
3. Think About What You Might Say Beforehand – It is always good to think about what you are going to say before you say it. Find out about their particular cancer if you can and see if there are resources, such as support groups and the like that could be beneficial. Listening will allow you the chance to see opportunities that may arise to provide helpful information. One of the biggest issues when you first get cancer is not knowing. This is the breeding ground for most fear when it comes to cancer. Any beneficial information you can provide to reduce that person from feeling in the dark could be helpful. One word of caution here. It is probably better to wait for them to ask you for advice as oppose to volunteering it.
I know I didn’t tell you specifically what to say. Why? Because truthfully there is no real way to tell you what to say. Each situation is unique. The key with knowing what to say is ensuring that YOU are in the right state of mind. I wish I could say that everything that was said to me by my friends was helpful, but that would not be the truth. Some of it I could have done without, but I knew that they meant well. My hope is to help anyone reading this article with knowing that it is OK to just listen and say nothing. Sometimes your presence says more than anything that comes out of your mouth. 🙂
President, UCAN Media and Technology, LLC
"Where Inspiration and Technology Meet!"
http://www.ucan-behealthy.com – A health, diet, nutrition and fitness blog
Patrick Pete is an online entrepreneur and aspiring author with type 2 diabetes who has survived prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease to be in the best shape of his life at 41. He writes and does work online to inform and encourage people who don’t have health challenges to get or stay healthy. And to inform and encourage people like himself who have health challenges how to overcome them.
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