Help needed responding to friend's diagnosis

My friend has just told me that she has been diagnosed with MS.

I know that there is no right or wrong way to respond, but I want to be a supportive friend and respond sensitively.

It would be interesting to hear about any experiences you had when you told friends about your diagnosis and their responses (whether helpful or not).


A lucky girl to have a friend like you. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago and really struggled telling friends. The best reaction was one friend just hugged me and said she didn’t know what to say :+1: others were very positive and supportive. It is a tough time, to be there and listen (if they want to talk) and be positive was the best thing for me.

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I’m newly diagnosed and have only told a very few friends so far. I’m looking for hugs and support, I dont want to hear “I’m sorry” - dont be sorry, I’m not, having a diagnosis finally is a good thing for me. And try to avoid the “head tilt” - I’ve had the sideways head tilt and “ahhhh” - I know people are trying to be nice but please no head tilts :upside_down_face:

You are 100% correct: There is no right or wrong way, so you need to really listen to your friend to manage your responses. It can be a minefield or a walk in the park. I looked at the website and watched some of their videos. When I was not eloquent or sharp enough to explain to some people, I sent them links to watch the videos.
One response I got when I told a mate was. "At least now I know, I just thought you were a clumsy f****r . " This made the follow up conversation much easier. As with everything in life no 2 people will have the same response, so give it some thought and be lucky.

best response i had was " whatever you need - im here for you… pouring gin down my neck and being mad as hatters, shoulder to cry on, someone to push a wheelchair or have a race with…whatever i need shes there"

worse response which i get alot of is " i know what you mean" and goes on to tell me their story

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The worst responses I got were “Oh, wow” and “I’m sorry to hear that”. Then I never heard from either one again.

The best one was my boss: “I’m sorry. I don’t really know anything about MS. What can you tell me about it?”

I don’t mind people asking me questions or even offering unsolicited advice, but do NOT tell me that I HAVE to do this or that and it’ll make me all better.

Don’t treat me like I’m fragile, but recognize that I know what I can and can’t do. Strolling slowly beside me is fine if we’re walking, but don’t hover over me unless I’m actively having balance and coordination issues.

We’re all different and have different emotional triggers, so go with your gut and what you know about your friend. Stay in touch even if she doesn’t call or text you as often as before. Don’t make a big deal out of her having to cancel plans at the last minute. If she can no longer do a popular activity, find something else that you can do together. Understand that her abilities might change on a dime. If her friendship really matters to you, you’ll find ways to work through this with her.