You’ll find no shortage of research that shows how impactful friendship is on a person’s life. Whether it’s a positive outlook, a more hopeful attitude on life, or even a longer lifespan, friendships are important, and can even have a greater influence on psychological well-being than family relationships.

There’s even evidence that friendships can have a positive effect on a person’s physical health.

So, when a woman gets a cancer diagnosis, it might seem obvious that her female friendships could deeply affect her. But unfortunately, that can be a challenge for many women, due to the difficulties that some people experience around such news.

Some friends say the wrong thing. Others don’t say anything at all. And so, at a time when women need their friends the month, they can often experience a deafening silence.

There are a few things you can do to help mitigate the awkwardness that can arise between friends when a cancer diagnosis is involved.

  1. Move beyond your own discomfort. It’s not about you! Remember that this is about your friend, not about you. So, step out of your comfort zone.
  2. Saying something is better than saying nothing. Cancer is just awkward, so don’t be ashamed if you reach out and say the wrong thing. There’s a good chance your friend will correct you, and you won’t make the same mistake twice.
  3. Don’t ask, just do. Many people are uncomfortable asking for help, and will just keep saying “no” even when they actually need something. Show up with some flowers. Send a card. Bring her coffee (or wine). Remind her that you’re there, no matter how bad it gets.