Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine hadn't been feeling well. After seeing her doctor for a full day of tests she met up with me, and I listened to her concerns. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, "God, I hope you don't have cancer!" She became very upset because of my comment and made me feel guilty for even mentioning it. While I meant my remark to be more caring than callous, it backfired.

With cancer so prevalent in today's society, when is it OK to talk about it? Is it something we tiptoe around and discuss only after a full diagnosis? I regret my words, and need to know how I can become a more caring, supportive friend.

— Oops, in Florida

DEAR "OOPS": Cancer, like other illnesses that can be fatal, should be discussed when and if the person has the diagnosis, reveals it and feels the need to discuss it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.