NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Part 7: Living your life
Friends and family can react to a cancer diagnosis
in some very strange ways. Some take it in stride,
achieving the perfect balance of support and normalcy.
Others are so freaked out or unsure of what to say that
they basically disappear. Still others become so focused
on the cancer that they can’t seem to talk about anything
else. And all of them mean well.
Navigating your relationships with friends and family
members requires a mix of honesty, diplomacy, and self-
protection. Having to tell your story over and over again
tends to get old fast. To keep people in the loop consider
one or all of the following options.
Ask a friend or family member to serve as
information central, keeping people updated on your
condition and fielding questions and messages so
you don’t get overwhelmed.
Start a blog. The Web site
is a free service that you or your information central
person can use to post regular updates in a simple
Send out mass e-mail updates on how you’re doing
and what you need.
Help Me Live: 20 Things People with
Cancer Want You to Know
(Berkeley, CA: Celestial
Arts, 2011) is a terrific resource for friends who
aren’t sure what to say—or do—to help.
A primer on cancer etiquette
It’s really helpful to know someone else
your age who’s going through, or has gone
through, what you’re experiencing. In my
case, it was a family friend who’d been
diagnosed several months prior. I would
get in touch with my friend whenever I
had questions. Or simply to vent about
the whole situation!!! There’s nothing
like having a person around who gets the
dark humor that inevitably takes over
when your life is on the line.”
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, diagnosed at age 37