Hello the Bro.
I can't offer much in response to what you have asked.
I'll just say a bit about my friend.
She was my only friend when we were teenagers. It wasn't the friendship I thought it was, but I didn't know that until much later. We'd become estranged, following mistakes I had made, which she could not forgive.
Years later, while trying to reconcile with my father, He told me in a letter, about the deaths of some people, my friend included, of cancer. He didn't tell me any more than that because he didn't have my contact details, it was too late for me to go to her funeral. She didn't die overnight. - I wanted to protest, but I was too upset about that content & other things he had written. So, I could not be there, before,or after, because I had no info from him. My impression was my father simply hadn't thought about my feelings or that my friendship had meant anything, so it was just a bit of news.
I have thought, wondering what on earth I would have said to her. I really don't know. I think being there would have been the only way I would have discovered what I would say, how she would respond & I understand her response would have been her individual response.
She had been sort of 'fighting' during the time I'd known her, trying to keep her sibs safe from her father, & to give her mum as much help as she could. She took on way too much for a kid to handle; still, she was the strongest person I have ever known. Even while it cost her, changing her, & she seemed to have some invisible impervious armour always around her, she continued to fight.
So, maybe she would have like the idea of fighting the cancer, bare fists, or martial arts weapons, something like that. At some point, she must have realised this was a fight she could not win. I'd like to have told her, '"it's okay, 'Orion', you can relax now" & I would like to think she would let me hold her.
I suppose you'll need to look at each individual, knowing them as well as you do, & I think, be honest. If you want to tell them it sucks, then I would say that. Or maybe better, ask each, what can I do to help? & listen to their own words about how you can help.Invite them to talk, & then listen Much easier said than done, I'm sure.
I wonder if various organisations supporting people with cancer have guidance to help friends & families, like BB has for people here?