Sorry I'm late in replying but my computer has been giving me hassles, so I've not been able to post much. Don't know if that's fixed, but for today it's working better and I'll take it!
I've not had a cervical fusion, but a 2 level lumbar fusion which didn't help. However, I have had chronic neck and shoulder pain for over 25 years. I have managed it with what I learned from an excellent PT (also had some bad PT's in the process that made things worse, so get someone who really has expertise with necks!), changing ergonomics such as how I sit at the computer, screen height, using the right cervical pillow (takes forever to find the "right" one for each person and it seems I need to start shopping for a new one again), never using shoulder bags (had to go to a smaller, hand held purse or waist pack).....and with all those things I've mostly managed my neck without surgery. Back in the early 90's an MRI showed bulging disks, so I'm sure if I had an MRI now things would be much worse, but I don't have the insurance for that plus I'm not ready to have cervical fusion. Carpal tunnel surgery on each hand got rid of the numbness in my fingers, although if I sleep wrong I can get some tingling in fingers in the morning, but it goes away once I do my neck stretches. Oh, and I also use one of those neck heat packs nearly every day - usually am walking around with it on several times during the day!
Your friend will likely be sent for some PT anyway after the surgery. I think it's poor medical practice for a surgeon to suggest surgery before any other modalities have been tried. But it does take work to do the stretching (I STILL use the stretch routine the PT taught to me back in the 90's - would never have survived without it) and look at some other lifestyle changes. But your friend it likely going to have to do these things anyway.
I'd DEFINITELY get a second opinion, but I would think this is a good case for a physiatrist (NOT psychiatrist but physiatrist - specialist in physical medicine) because they really do know about many of these other modalities.
Surgery shouldn't be the first option unless there's some very serious and unusual reason, but even if I was having surgery, I'd get a second opinion.
Hope this helps a bit.