About two months ago, my co-worker "Kayla" found out that she had some lumps inside her lungs, and upon closer medical examination, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She's currently undergoing chemo treatments. When she was still able to come to work, she didn't really discuss her condition much with the exception of those she worked with directly, and others, like myself, felt she needed some privacy. But it then gets to a point where giving someone privacy may seem like not being sympathetic or caring about the person.
There's a friend of mine in my department who has continually gone out of her way to cheer up Kayla and give her encouragement and support. One time "Jane" organized group photos of people in our department, holding banners with well wishes, like "We miss you, Kayla" or "Stay Strong." Today, upon hearing that Kayla's not doing really well, Jane decided to send her an inspirational book.
Jane told me about a movie she once saw, and some of you may be familiar with it. It was about a dying man who decided to have his "funeral" while he was still alive. The event was a celebration of his life. He wanted to know what people had to say about him so that it would give him an opportunity to acknowledge everyone's thoughts. And sometimes we don't always say the things we want to say to someone (while we still can). Of course, I already knew this, but having that conversation Jane just helped reinforce that concept.
I sent a little note to Kayla on Facebook. She once said people could get in touch with her that way, though at this point, I don't know how often she's on-line. I gave her my love and regards. She and family are in my thoughts and prayers.