When You Don’t Agree With the Treatment


A lady currently receiving chemotherapy wrote me this concerned question. 

How do I deal with a friend who doesn’t agree with my treatment regime?

I think every person who has faced cancer treatment has faced this problem to some degree or another.

If you are that friend, I’d like to share some thoughts with you. You are probably scared you are going to lose your friend. Perhaps you have already lost someone to cancer. Or perhaps you have heard some of the many horror cancer stories that abound.

Some things worth considering:

1)   Your friend has also heard the negative stories, but perhaps not the positive ones. e.g.

  • “One out of every eight baby girls alive today will get breast cancer.”
    • That means seven out of every eight baby girls will never get breast cancer!
  • “Years ago, most people who had cancer died within a short period.”
    • Today, more and more people survive cancer every year.
  • “Different people respond differently to the same type of regime.”
    • What didn’t work for some other person your friend knows, may well work for her.
  • “Different cancers have different survival rates.”
    • True, but it is highly unlikely that your friend knows the details of the other person’s cancer, even if she does understand her own. Cancer and treatment is such a vast and complex subject.
  • “You can learn about cancer from so many sources.” 
    • Again, true. Some of them are correct. Others are unwarranted or unproven. Her oncologist has studied for many years and is working with cancer all the time.

2)    You don’t have her understanding. You probably haven’t sat and listened to her oncologist’s explanations. You may have researched, studied, Googled, or otherwise investigated her diagnosis and treatment regime. The Internet has millions of medical facts. Some of them are true. Many are not. Ultimately, you need to accept it’s not your diagnosis. It’s not your life. But you are her friend, and she needs your support now more than ever before. 

3)    You may not have her peace because you don’t have the prayer backing she has. She probably has many people praying for her, some of whom you know, and many more neither she nor you have even heard about. They’re not praying for you. They’re praying for your friend. Join the ranks and pray. Pray for her – and pray for the oncologist and his decisions.

4)    She desperately wants to have the best treatment, but she has to trust her medical team. Is it just possible that, subconsciously,you need to know you “warned her” if things don’t work out?

5)    According to Psalm 139:16, all the days ordained  for her are known to God.  And cancer is not going to change that number!

 So how do you deal with the situation?

Friends1)  Love her, and share your findings with her, but don’t try to argue or convince her. That will just wear you out and unnerve her.

2)  Assure her of your concern, but agree to stop discussing the issue. Tell her you don’t want anything to cause strain to your friendship and that you’re there for her to support her in any way you can.

3)  Read as many books and articles you can find that give an encouraging message about cancer and its treatment and share positive findings with her.

4) Encourage her to discuss her fears with her oncologist. I think I drove my oncologist to the brink of exasperation with all my questions. But he always took the time to answer them, and I would return home more confident. Caution: Don’t ask her to discuss all your fears with him. 

5) Chat to survivors who have a positive attitude. Do all you can to build her up. Introduce her to long-term survivors where possible. 

6) Memorise Isaiah 40:31 and keep applying it to your own life. But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 KJV).

As you wait upon the Lord, He will renew your strength and make it possible for you to encourage your friend. Perhaps the oncologist does choose something that is not ideal for her. He’s human, after all. But do you think God is sitting with His head in His hands saying, “Oh no! He’s done the wrong thing. Now she won’t make it?”
Remember Psalm 139:16? Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day
When I underwent chemotherapy, my oncologist was revolutionary in his approach. He didn’t use the same chemicals as most of the other oncologists. He told me right at the beginning, “I don’t believe in fighting World War III with Word War II weapons.” I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time, but oh boy did I learn? Those were hard months. But what I remember most about those times are the many folk who urged me to change doctors, refuse the treatment, stop having chemo. I particularly remember very good friends of ours urging my husband to “get her away from that man. He’s killing her!” 
Well, as I write this, I have just passed 18 years cancer-free . . . despite my surgeon’s prediction I wouldn’t last a year. I am so glad I stuck it out with that oncologist and his World War III weapons! And ultimately? It was all written in God’s open book before I was even born! 
It’s not an easy situation to watch your friend suffering with severe treatment, but your place is not to undermine her faith in her doctors and treatment. You may be frightened by how she’s reacting to the treatment, but by encouraging yourself, you will encourage her. And if that doesn’t work? See #6 above.
star blinkingOVER TO YOU: If you have anything further to suggest, please note it below in the comment box. If you leave your email address I will get back to you.

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