Cancerversary-n. – 1._______________ 2. The anniversary of my first Cancer diagnosis
Part 4. My Message to You
Some things never change. Only a select few were aware that as I was writing Part 3. of this series, I had gone to yet “just another doctor’s appointment”. I was awaiting test results, again. I am happy and lucky to say, everything turned out ok. This has become a pattern of how I personally have come to cope with each test, biopsy, etc. There is no wrong or right with how someone reacts to Cancer. There is no instruction manual on how to support someone with cancer, or to support the loved one who is affected as well.
My Message to those fighting and surviving Cancer:
It is ok to be scared, angry, bitter, sad, overwhelmed. Whatever your feelings, they are valid. They are your feelings. Period. Your life matters. You matter.
My Message to those who know someone affected by Cancer:
You may be the spouse, child, friend, or coworker of someone affected by Cancer. You may know them socially or may be the one who will have to help care for them. Like I mentioned above it is okay for you too to be scared, angry, bitter, sad, overwhelmed. Whatever your feelings, they are valid too.
Here are some tips on how you can offer support to someone affected by Cancer:
- Don’t sing songs to the heavy heart. Phrases that discredit a person’s feelings of fear, despair, sadness: “cheer up”, “it’s no big deal”, “you’ll be fine” while they may have good intentions, they only throw salt on the wound.
- Listen. Don’t talk. Don’t feel the need to fill silence. Let the person talk, or be silent. Be a sounding board. People’s emotions are all over the place. I am a talker, I think out loud. Sometimes I just need to get it out. It may be gibberish, but it’s a way I cope and many others do.
- Don’t try to solve or fix the situation. Many people dive in “you need to do this, you need to do that”. Again, listen, don’t try to solve anything, unless you are asked.
- When in doubt, ask. Ask the person “what can I do to support you?” They may want you to listen, help them research treatment options. They may say they need to be distracted. They may not even know.
- Don’t offer tissues. In my Stephen Ministry training this was one of the best examples used in how in a situation people rush to make it “all better” and don’t allow a person to feel their emotions. Example: If tissues are on a table and someone is crying, don’t pick up the tissues and hand them to them. Some people need the cleansing of the tears. Tissues handed to someone signal it’s time to quit crying and dry up the tears. The tissues are there, they will reach for them if they want them. Let people cry.
- If you love them, tell them. People need to know they matter, that they are loved. The feelings of being alone and invisible can be overpowering.
- Touch them. Cancer is not contagious. Hug them. Simply place your hand on their hand, shoulder, etc. There is nothing more comforting than human touch.
I could list 100’s of 1000’s of tips. I really could. Bottom line, let people feel and cope the way they need to. Everyone reacts a different way. No two people and no two cancers are alike. One thing is for certain, Cancer is Cancer. No matter the type or severity. It’s Cancer.
My last message to everyone:
BE HEALTHY. You owe it to yourself and those who love you. Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Wear Sunscreen. Get regular checkups. Early detection is the key to survival.
For me, I have come to accept that it’s not if I have Cancer again, but when. I choose to be as healthy as possible due to the fact if Cancer knocks on my door again; it is in for a HUGE fight. I have a husband who loves me and little boy who I WILL be there for him as he grows up.
To everyone who followed this series, thank you for taking the time to stop and read. It was painful and scary to share my story. I still have kept some things private. My life with Cancer has too many painful memories, so those details didn’t and may never come out.
As always, like we say at PRSFit Nation:
Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun…and one more thing…FIGHT CANCER
*Special thanks to Lori Hauck and Krista Greaves who were my sounding boards while writing this series. I cannot express how much I appreciate you both.