How to be supportive

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How to be supportive

Hi, I recently found out that the mother of a 16 year old that I train has stage 4 lung cancer. They told me that the cancer was treatable, but not curable & that the best case scenario for her is that she'll live for another 5 years (they also added that only about 15% of people have lived for that length of time). I'm pretty close with the kid (young man) and his family and we talk about a lot of stuff.. he's very close with his mother & has told me before that she's his best friend. He's a very emotionally centred person & hide's it well, but once you get to know him, you can tell that there's more to him then meet's the eye. His mother's cancer will naturally be on his mind and it will dictate a lot of his decisions & actions in the near future. I know we're going to talk a lot about this & have many of 1-on-1 conversations in the future, and I'm really happy he is comfortable enough to be able to open up to me about it (I'm a big believer in talking out problems and believe 'a problem shared is a problem halved') but the truth of the matter is that I have no idea what I'm supposed to say or do in these conversations! this is way out of my league, and I don't want to be giving him any wrong or harmful advice! Obviously I am going to listen to everything he says and will be there for him 100% both in the gym and out of it, and I will also suggest that he speaks to a professional - a councillor or psychologist or someone who is better trained/more knowledgeable about this type of situation (I have already done this, but will re-emphasise it again) but as a friend, what else should I be saying/doing when he talks to me? I know the question 'why does this have to happen to me/mum/us' will come up as well as many other unanswerable questions… how am I supposed to answer them? what am I supposed to say? I want to be helpful, but at the same time truthful. Religion doesn't play a big part of his life so I don't want to use the old 'God works in mysterious ways' line. I'd love to hear any advice/encouragement/support people have given/received in the past, because I have a feeling this kid is going to need it… Any advice? thanks, Mark
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Super Contributor

Re: How to be supportive

Mark It reads as though this young feller is getting very good advice from you already he is very fortunate to have you in his corner,you are doing all the things he will benefit from, good suggestion for him to seek professional help as well. All the encouragement I got and still get definitely helps. Sorry I can't offer any words of wisdom except just listen and encouragement,it is never easy where cancer is involved especially for the young.Best wishes kj
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Super Contributor

Re: How to be supportive

Hi Mark, it's always hard to know what to say when someone you care about is facing something like this. The really good thing is usually you don't have to say anything- letting the other person just talk is a fantastic support. There may be big questions, but I think an honest 'I don't know' is probably a really good answer. You will definitely be a huge support and help to your friend just by doing what you plan to do. Good luck with everything. Emily
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Occasional Contributor

Re: How to be supportive

yes just being there and letting him talk about how he is feeling is of great support, I find it beneficial if I can be completely honest with someone about how I am feeling as I have to be positive around my husband keep his spirits up but I need to talk about how I am feeling honestly to other people without being judged as not being positive.
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