Being a friend.

Being a friend.

How can a friend help even if the patient isn’t asking for it?

Continue to check in on your friend even after they first begin treatment. Even if they say they don’t need help, ongoing contact shows your friend that you're always there to lend a hand. Don’t wait for your friend to ask for help; volunteer to do things, such as watching the children, making a meal or stopping by to chat over a cup of coffee. Friends dealing with a untreatable disease may not want to ask for someone to just sit with them, but often it is appreciated.

Most important, just continue being a friend. Keep inviting them to events. Even if they don’t feel up to it, they will appreciate being included. And when you get together, talk to them about things other than their health. Many feel as if their life revolves around their illness , or that friends and colleagues begin to think of them only in terms of their illness, and they miss talking about other topics.

Finally, keep these things in mind:

Respect their need for privacy, especially if you see the person in public. (Remember, they might not want others to know about their diagnosis.) Keep questions about their illness to a minimum.

Avoid commenting on their appearance. How they look often doesn’t match how they’re feeling.

Don’t share personal stories. ("I know exactly how you feel.”) Everyone’s experience is different, and comparing theirs to your own is not helpful.

Don’t suggest alternative treatments. Unless they asks for this type of advice, it is often unwanted.



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