Thanks so much for joining, Claire, it's so good to hear from people who want to offer support. It it really hard, too, because I think we all want to wave a magic wand for the people we love, and make everything better. It's hard to accept that this isn't possible. It's also hard to accept that we can't say anything to make people feel better; most of the time, with cancer, there is no 'feeling better'.
But as careers and supporters, I don't think that's our job. The best and most helpful thing we can do is just to be there, and listen if the person feels like talking. This sounds simple, but it's really hard, because it emphasizes just how little we can do to help (but worrying about that is concentrating on our needs, not the needs of the people we're trying to help).
You could also ask your friend how you could help them, or, alternatively, offer a couple of suggestions of things you could do for them. Mundane stuff like housework and administration still has to go ahead at such times, so doing something that you may even think is too dull or small to be useful can actually be a godsend. While my husband was going through chemotherapy, a group of church friends got together and supplied us with a couple of reheatable meals a week. 2 years later, I still appeciate it, and remember what a difference it made to a bad day.
I think the main thing, though, is just to let them know that you care, in whatever way you think is best. Dealing with cancer can be very lonely, so having friends express their love is amazingly uplifting.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.