Trying to make 'rules' around a process that is so individualized is an attempt likely made in vain. That being said, however, I appreciate the author's effort in shedding light on some misconceptions people have around how to best offer their support.
What strikes me about the article is that it's written under the assumption that the reader wants to help, and in some way communicate that they care.
After my treatment, my good friend injured his back and was forced into bed rest for several weeks. Despite the trek required for me to visit him in Pickering, I got my able-body into my car and went to his house to entertain him. We watched several episodes of the terribly trashy but endlessly entertaining reality show, Cheaters. Mostly, however, by visiting him, I felt reassured that I had in some way communicated to my friend that I cared, and was able to help in the limited way that I could.
If I were writing an article on what to say to someone who's sick (and I guess I am), the only advice I would offer is, if you really want to do something for that person, just say or do something.
Who knows? It could be a chance to get a full update, or the person might be willing to share a link with you to a blog where you can get ongoing updates (that's what I usually did). Or maybe you would be doing that person a favour, simply by relieving the burden on them by finally identifying the pink elephant in the room.
I'll be the first to admit, it's a risk bringing up a sensitive, high-emotion topic, especially in a social setting that might not seem like the ideal timing.
In my experience, however, it's a risk well worth taking. It's not often that we're given the opportunity to reach out to someone who's facing a crisis and let them know that we care. Hopefully, it's an opportunity that won't come twice!
So swallow your pride, forget your fears - and hope for the best! The reward could be very satisfying.