We’ve looked at several of the lows of the cancer roller coaster. But like all roller coasters, there are also some ups, and that’s important to understand. When your friend has a sudden upswing, she hasn’t become bi-polar or schizophrenic. Once again, this is a normal occurence and one which, unfortunately, probably won’t last long. So make the most of the time.
What causes the hope? Often when a person accepts they have cancer, in other words they’ve passed the stage of denial, they find reasons to hope.
They realize that
- Cancer treatment has gone a long way. The treatment is vastly improved and more successful than in the past.
- Millions of people who have had cancer go on to live a normal life.
- Many of them even live an active life during treatment.
- Chances of survival are far better now than ever before.
How can you cash in on these emotions and encourage your friend?
- Help her to make positive plans for the week ahead, including some fun times.
- Encourage her to tackle the things she would normally do, even though she may have to be selective with the timing, and limit the amount she gets done.
- Make sure she has a journal–and encourage her to use it. In the same way that she’s hopefully writing down her fears and anger, she should write down her hopes and good feelings.
- As with the other emotions, help her to talk about her hope. Discuss other reasons to be hopeful. The more you talk about the good things that can come out of this time with cancer, the more she will remember them when the roller coaster starts on its downward plunge again.
- Encourage her to turn to God and share her hopes and fears with Him. After all, He created her. He surely understands her emotions.
- Help to find books with a positive message. They don’t need to be about cancer. Just hopeful stories.
- Introduce her to any survivors you meet who have an encouraging story to share. One of my most encouraging moments was when a lady I never met phoned me from my husband’s head office. She had heard of my diagnosis and wanted to tell me, “Shirley, I had cancer 35 years ago, and I’m still fit today.”
- Encourage your friend to share her hope with others, and to be open with her struggles as well. As people see her as a “real person” they will remind her of the hope she had “last week” and help her to hang on to those positive feelings.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.