Compassion encouraged

Dear Annie: An acquaintance from the local golf course, where we both play every week, told me he has prostate cancer. Although he went into far more detail about the discovery, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options than I wanted to hear, I listened and expressed my sympathy.

Three weeks later, I saw him again. He said he was angry with me because I had not called him. “Friends look out for each other,” he said.

This guy is just an acquaintance, not a friend. We really don’t have much in common, and I don’t want a closer relationship. At the same time, I recognize he is in need of emotional support now. — Now What?

Dear Now What: It sounds as though this man could use some emotional support, but you’re not the person to give it. Even if you forced yourself, you might end up feeling resentful or pulling away, and that would only make the situation worse. Instead, refer him to other resources. You can find a database of support programs and services in your area on the American Cancer Society’s website ( With a cancer diagnosis come a whole range of complex emotions, which your acquaintance is no doubt struggling with. Try to be patient. Though you don’t have to be his best friend, you’ll never regret being compassionate.