Every time I hear the “C” word I cringe. I am already conscious of the fight that goes into surviving cancer. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed the toll this dreadful disease has taken on the lives of my loved ones. It is never easy and yet somehow I still remain hopeful that one day (very soon) lives will be changed and a cure will be discovered.
I can recall receiving a call from a dear friend, years ago, sharing the news of her breast cancer diagnosis. We immediately cried, I questioned, and I remember feeling completely drained. While I should have been comforting her, she actually had to encourage and support me. As we came to the end of our call, I was amazed as my friend uttered the following “Instead of asking why me, I have to ask why not me”. She knew God had already prepared her for this journey and that she was built for this fight.
Her optimism was exactly what I needed to hear to remind me that she was not in her fight alone. I was able to see this entire situation from a different perspective. My friend is a survivor and continues to inspire the women all around her. Our sister friends and loved ones need to be reassured that we are beside them for every step of this journey. We have to join them in this challenge the exact same way we would support them during any other difficulty. Rolling up our sleeves, putting on our boxing gloves and preparing for battle, is what our loved ones need most.
Although it may be difficult to mask our initial emotion, it is a must that we remove our selfish thinking and shift our focus to helping them not only cope but survive. In order to do that we must remember the following:
Our encouragement is necessary. There will be occasions when a person living with Cancer might become discouraged and doubt their ability to defeat the disease. Loving and healing words need to be shared frequently. Words of hope and optimism reminds our loved ones that any and everything is possible.
Allowing brief moments of sorrow is acceptable. However, we must not let them dwell in that space for too long.
It is important to be aware of when to just listen. Sometimes our loved ones just need a sounding board. They don’t always need our counseling or advice, they may just need to vent, yell, scream and release some of the pressures, provide that space for them.
Remember they are still among the living and don’t treat them any different. It is unfair to make assumptions for them. Give them the opportunity to decline invitations. For the most part, we must be mindful of their feelings and treat them the same by inviting them ou and continuing to call and visit.
Cancer is the one word none of us ever want to hear. What makes receiving this news just a little bit easier is knowing we have a sister circle and loved ones who are ready, willing and able to roll up their sleeves and jump in the ring with us.