Groundhog Friends


Bob Riter
Bob Riter

I’m often asked how to be a friend to someone with cancer.

I generally answer this question by encouraging them to be good listeners and to be present for their friend in every sense of the word.

The best friends are what I describe as “groundhog friends.”

Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? The same day kept reappearing. That isn’t a good trait for one’s day, but it’s a terrific trait for a friend of someone with cancer.

When you’re first diagnosed, many people call, send notes, and help in a variety of ways. That’s great and those kindnesses are appreciated.

But cancer is more a marathon than a sprint. The challenging time is when the initial outpouring of support slows and you still have four months of chemotherapy looming ahead.

A groundhog friend checks on you throughout the course of your treatment.

A groundhog friend keeps sending notes of support.

A groundhog friend keeps popping up to do things that make your life easier.

A groundhog friend isn’t offended by your crankiness on those inevitable bad days.

A groundhog friend doesn’t change the subject when you have bad news to share.

A groundhog friend keeps filling your freezer with food.

A groundhog friend brings in other friends when you’re in the mood and keeps them away when you aren’t.

Above all, a groundhog friend keeps reappearing, day after day.


Reprinted with Permission of the Ithaca Journal
Original Publication Date: October 20, 2012

Excerpted with permission from When Your Life is Touched By Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals, and Those Who Care by Bob Riter, copyright (c) 2013, Hunter House Inc., Publishers.