DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine has informed me that she has stage-4 breast cancer. She shared some details about her situation, and we discussed the possibility of alternative treatments because she is not interested in chemotherapy treatments. (She believes she will die.) I told my friend that I will help her in any way possible to find an alternative treatment. However, I would like to gather a few friends together and try persuading her to do chemo treatments. The cancer is spreading, and I am afraid we may lose her if she does not treat her condition as soon as possible. -- Being a friend, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR BEING A FRIEND: Stage 4 means that the cancer has already metastasized in your friend's body. Without aggressive treatment, she very well may die. I'm sure the doctors have told her this, but it may be very difficult to accept or even understand. I have experienced several friends who faced stage-4 cancer and really could not wrap their heads around it. In some cases, my friends survived with treatment. In other cases, even with aggressive treatment, they ultimately died.
What you can do is support your friend by being a good listener, showing up to help with whatever she needs and understanding her choices. Ask her what her doctors are recommending. As far as alternative treatments, she still needs medical care to support that. Find out if her doctor can make some suggestions. Look for a homeopathic doctor in your area. Gather friends to talk with your friend. Rather than pressuring her to take chemo, ask her to talk about what she wants and what she hopes for her future. She has to decide.