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I have a close friend who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. What can I do to be helpful? What should I not do?

Listen to your friend. Ask what she needs or wants. Sometimes, offering what you can do instead of being vague is more helpful. If you plan to cook for your friend and her family, ask about food preferences. Dropping by unexpectedly may cause stress, so be sure to call ahead. Keep your visits brief. Resist asking direct questions about diagnosis or treatment. Allow your friend the opportunity to share details as she desires. Do not tell your friend stories of other people you know who “had the same thing.” Breast cancer is a common name for more than 15 different types of breast tumors. No one person’s disease is the same as another’s. Ask your friend if there is some family member or support person you can call for periodic updates. Extra phone calls, though well-intentioned, may cause extra stress for someone dealing with diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

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