THE ADVOCATE 403
VOL. 77 PART 3 MAY 2019
person, you will know the things that your friend will be fretting about—the
house isn’t tidy or clean, the laundry isn’t done, the lawn hasn’t been cut.
To quote Nike’s famous slogan—“Just do it”. That is, just do what your
friend usually takes care of but is not able to. If you are not close to the person
but want to help, ask someone who is close to your friend what would
be most appreciated, and then make arrangements. For instance, send a gift
certificate for a house-cleaning service.
In Closing …
I read part of a Ph.D. thesis written by a student who had had cancer. She
described getting the diagnosis as going “from the land of the well to the
land of the ill” and that it felt like there was an invisible wall between the
two. The sick person feels like they are looking at a world in which they
used to live quite comfortably but in which they no longer seem to fit. That
description really struck a chord with me. I felt exactly that way.
Accordingly, my friends who mostly just treated me the way they had
always treated me made me feel so much better. Those who looked at me
sadly and treated me with kid gloves only made me feel worse about the
So treat your friend as you have always treated him or her. Let them
know you are concerned about their health issue, but don’t make all your
conversations about their disease. Talk about what you always talked
about—sports, fashion, kids, spouses. Don’t let the cancer take over.
It should go without saying, but it happened to me so I am going to mention
this. Don’t talk about people who died from cancer or who have had
their cancer come back. It is devastating to hear this when you are trying to
be positive. Do talk about people you know who had cancer 20 or more
years ago and are doing great!
And my strongest advice is to not be worried about what to say or afraid
of saying the wrong thing. If you feel very unsure, just tell your friend “I am
not sure what to say”, then move on.
Whatever you do, don’t avoid the person because of the cancer. Find a
way in which you are comfortable communicating—with an e-mail (finally
someone who might appreciate receiving Internet jokes!), a card, a phone
call, a visit or a chance to get out of the house. Remember, your friend
doesn’t have leprosy—only cancer!
The Lawyers Assistance Program is an independent organization of members of the legal community (lawyers, judges,
families and support staff). We provide peer support and referral services to help people deal with personal problems,
including alcohol and drug dependence, stress, anxiety and depression. We are volunteers and staff committed to providing
confidential, compassionate and knowledgeable outreach, support and education. We seek to foster collegiality among our
peers and to promote health and well-being in our community. You can reach LAP by telephone at 604-685-2171, toll-free
at 1-888-685-2171 or via the LAP website: <www.lapbc.com>.