About a week ago I came across someone who asked how should one treat a cancer patient? What to say and how to say it. I had read a few suggestions on the net and had a few ideas of my own so being an eternal writer I sat down to my computer and put my own list together. Now I can't speak for anyone but myself, but give it a read. Perhaps you may take issue with some of what I say, or maybe you'll want to add to the list. If you healthy people want to know what we cancer slayers are looking for, give this whole thread a serious read. Peace.
[Response to question on seeking advice for how to interact with cancer patients.]
[ ] You be you and I'll be me. Cancer is such a roller coaster that any one way of action or reaction by others will never satisfy in all situations. What works today may well be seen as insensitive tomorrow simply because the pain, sickness and fear has returned. But with that said there are still a few ways you can be more sensitive to cancer slayers.
[ ] An offer of specific help. In crisis situations people can be more relaxed if they know there needs are being met. Everything from hospital visits to pet adoption could be on our minds.
[ ] I'm sorry you're ill. Please, leave it at that. Thank you for your sympathy but when the time comes, put it all in the book at the back of the hall. Don't go on about how unfair my disease is. That could be considered insensitive by me, but you're not the one with the stomach upset and splitting headache.
[ ] An offer of 24/7 availability. Making the offer of being available for phone calls even in the middle of the night is a real comfort to those with cancer who live alone. It can be scary to think you're all alone between 10 pm and 6 am. We probably all have someone we can call in an emergency but sometimes our minds are racing, we can't sleep and we need to talk. Having an offer of "Call me anytime day or night" will probably never get tested, but knowing there is always someone who is willing to listen is of great comfort to those of us who live alone. Those that live with there families would also greatly appreciate this offer, as it's often the case we want to talk about issues without upsetting those close to us. You as a friend can be that person. Make the offer and the majority of us will be truly touched by your sensitivity.
[ ] Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen. Are you listening? Everyone learns by listening to themselves. That's why one on one therapy is so effective. You may have my answer, it may even be obvious, but until I come to the conclusion through verbally expressing my thoughts and feelings your answer to my problem just won't be as effective. Cancer or not, if we're suffering let us speak and in the process, figure it out for ourselves. My uncle taught me how to pause in conversation. Instead of responding to what the person just said, stay quiet but engaged and in a few seconds the one who was speaking will start up again. The brightest people with the best advice are the ones who shut up and listen. You'll find it's not only the best way to do it, but also the easiest.
[ ] You be you and I'll be me. Once the news has been absorbed by everyone around the victim, go back to the way things used to be. Treat me with no more concern then someone with a cold or perhaps a broken wrist. We don't want pity and we don't want to be constantly reminded we're sick and probably going to die. Special treatment fuels our fears and aggravates our emotions. I know you mean well but special treatment is unusual. I as a cancer victim just want to feel as normal as my health will allow me. So please, just be yourself. If you can't do that naturally, then admit it to me and lets talk honestly. Let's clear the air and get our old friendship back on track.
The time for special treatment and outward concern is in the final stages of my disease. When I'm bedridden or close to death - if it goes that way - then you can turn on the sirens & flash the lights.The last stages of my disease you can treat me as the sick person that I am. But in the meantime I want to enjoy as much of life as I can with my people by my side. So don't keep reminding me I'm sick. Treat me as normal as possible and if necessary, get over your own fear.
Again, I can only speak for myself. Others may not agree. Let's get the conversation going so those who are honestly lost in how to act, can get a few ideas of what we're looking for.
[ ] Just a note to other cancer slayers, although we want to be treated in certain ways we must understand our diagnosis affects everyone in our circle. Family and friends may not be able to respond in the way we want or need, simply because they are still recovering from there own shock anger and fear. Bottom line if those from both sides of the cancer illness were to put there total focus and concern on each other, no one would need to be taught anything. Yeah, we have to put our total focus on the needs of those who come before us, while they naturally return focus on us. It takes forgiveness on both sides to develop a healthy working relationship. Real life is about serving each other.
Peace, love, mercy and healing to us all.😉