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Walking the Cancer Journey: How to Be There for Friends in Need

Cancer is a word that carries weight, fear, and uncertainty. When someone you care about is diagnosed with cancer, it can be overwhelming. You want to support them, but you might be unsure about how to do it. In these challenging times, one of the most precious gifts you can offer your friends with cancer is your presence. Sometimes, just being in the room can mean the world to them.

Understanding the Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis can feel like a whirlwind. It’s a moment that divides life into a before and after. Suddenly, your friend is navigating doctor’s appointments, treatments, and a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s a journey that’s not only physically demanding but emotionally exhausting too.

The Power of Presence

In times of crisis, we often feel pressure to find the right words, offer solutions, or do something grand to show our support. However, when your friend is facing cancer, one of the most meaningful things you can do is to simply be there for them. Your presence alone is a comforting balm for their weary soul.

Listening Without Judgment

When your friend talks about their fears, concerns, or the rollercoaster of emotions they’re experiencing, listen without judgment. Cancer can provoke a range of emotions, from anger and sadness to fear and frustration. Your role is to be a safe space for them to express these feelings.

Offering Practical Support

Sometimes, being present means lending a helping hand. Offering to drive them to appointments, preparing meals, or running errands can ease the daily burdens that cancer can bring. Your practical support is a concrete way to show you care.

Share Laughter and Memories

Cancer doesn’t define your friend, and sometimes, they need a break from the weight of the diagnosis. Share moments of joy and laughter. Reminisce about fun times you’ve had together or make new memories. These moments can be a welcome distraction and a reminder that life still holds beauty.

Respecting Boundaries

It’s essential to respect your friend’s boundaries. Some days, they might feel like talking and sharing, while on others, they might need solitude. Being sensitive to their needs is part of being present for them.

Empathy Over Sympathy

Empathy is about understanding and sharing the emotions of another person. Sympathy, on the other hand, is feeling sorry for someone. When you can truly understand your friend’s feelings, it deepens your connection and support.

Offering a Listening Ear

One of the most therapeutic things you can do is listen. Your friend might not need advice or solutions; they may just need someone who listens without judgment. A listening ear can be a source of great comfort.

Celebrating Small Victories

Throughout the journey, there will be moments of victory, no matter how small they may seem. Celebrate these moments with your friend. Whether it’s a good medical report or a day without pain, recognizing these triumphs can be incredibly uplifting.

Cancer Is a Part of Life, Not All of It

While cancer is a significant part of your friend’s life at the moment, it doesn’t define them entirely. They are still the same person you know and love. Being there to support their whole self, not just their cancer is a gift beyond measure.

Closing Thoughts

In the face of cancer, the most valuable thing you can offer your friends is your presence, your love, and your unwavering support. Being there for them, listening, and celebrating the moments of light in their journey can make all the difference. Remember, sometimes, the most extraordinary gift you can give is the simplest one: just being in the room.

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Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai, UAE

Oncology Coordinator


Delisa: +971 55 584 5815


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