When I was a child, two of my classmates lost a sibling to cancer. It was incomprehensible to me and I spent years thinking about how much that must have altered my friends' lives, and the lives of their parents. Now, I'm a mother to a child who has a progressive and chronic health condition. It's not cancer, but even with all of the medical advancements that help keep her alive, there is so much unknown to us. Watching any child become ill and suffer through medications and therapies and treatments is difficult. But if you know a child who has recently been diagnosed with cancer, your support is something that child's parents desperately need.

1. Don't Remain Silent

Sometimes well-meaning people become quiet when a child is diagnosed with cancer. They don't know what to say, so they don't say anything at all. This is painful for that child's parents. Even if you just send messages letting them know that you are praying for them and their child, which is so much better than saying nothing for fear of saying the wrong thing.

2. Don't Offer Open-Ended Help

Saying, "Let me know what I can do" is not going to allow you to help your friends. They are likely so overcome with emotions, questions, decisions, and fears that trying to think of what you can do to help is never going to happen. And it shouldn't be their burden. Instead, anticipate their needs. Send them gift cards to restaurants near the hospital so they can get a decent meal. Send their child activities to do while in the hospital or at home. Deliver meals to their house without asking (as long as you aware of any allergies they may have). There are so many universal ways to help. So just do it.

3. Listen

Parents of children diagnosed with cancer are sometimes very angry and they are always scared. They don't understand why it's their child who has to go through this. They need someone to yell at. They need someone to cry to. When they turn to you, don't tell them you understand. Don't offer advice. Just listen.

4. Don't Judge

We all do what we think is best for our children. You may think that the family needs to get a second or third opinion, or that the doctor they choose isn't good enough. Don't judge them. Don't talk behind their backs about how you would do things differently. It's rude and will not help anyone. Be a person they can trust.

5. Pray

Even if you aren't religious, or the family isn't religious, hearing that someone is praying for that child can offer comfort in those dark hours. But don't just say you are praying, actually do it.

6. Raise Money

Cancer is one of the many diseases that we need a cure for. Becoming someone who supports this cause in honor of a friend's child is a hero. Hold events, raise awareness, and donate. It shows you care not just in this moment, but for all future moments.

7. Visit

If the child is allowed visitors, please visit. Call ahead to make sure they are going to be there. Bring a gift. Bring a treat. Show your support in person, where your smile and warm hug can change a rough day into a good one.

Whatever you do, don't do nothing. Don't look away. Don't think that you are bothering them. Just give any help you can, even if it's just a shoulder and an ear.