- Do you have a friend or family member currently undergoing treatment for cancer?
- Is someone you love battling this dread disease?
- Do you wish you could help them, but you’re not sure how?
- Have you said something you thought would help them, but it didn’t?
Recently I ran two surveys in an attempt to find out what actions or words were helpful or harmful to those in treatment. I received some interesting responses, as well as a number of emails and messages expressing interest in the topic. During the course of this series, I will share some of these insights with you.
Cancer treatment is difficult to bear from a physical, emotional and spiritual point of view. It takes its toll, no matter how strong the patient may be at its commencement. I think perhaps one of the most difficult concepts your friend has to grapple with is how ill the so-called treatment sometimes makes her feel. She wants you to understand that where she is used to going to a doctor because she feels ill, and the doctor gives her medication which makes her better, in cancer treatment, it’s all wrong. The patient goes to the rooms feeling not too bad. The doctor prescribes medication which often makes her feel dreadful, perhaps causing vomiting, pain, as well as loss of hair and weight.
At times it is extremely challenging to carry on, and your friend needs you to understand why. She needs you to offer a great deal of love, support and encouragement to keep going.
Coping with cancer treatments can also be physically and emotionally draining for you as you seek to support your loved one going through treatment. Spiritually you will find yourself stretched to understand what God is doing. You have to believe that your support and company can really help. By being there for your friend or loved one, by getting involved, you can make a difference, and she wants you to know that she appreciates your help even if at times she doesn’t seem grateful.
Your presence can help to alleviate some of the stress and fear she is going through. Your love and support can be an amazing gift that will help her through this horrible time. She, or her carer, needs to know you are there for her at any time of the day or night. That she can call you and you will pray with her over the phone, or get out of your comfy bed and head over to be there with her.
She wants you to understand that there are thousands if not millions of cancer survivors walking around well and healthy, and that her diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean pending death.
But if her cancer is advanced, she needs you to grasp that, and indeed there is no such thing as a slight touch of cancer. All cancers can be life-threatening. If her cancer is advanced though, she needs you to know she understands that and that you are not freaked out by that fact. She needs to know you will be there for her no matter how rough the road might be.
If she’s a Christian, she needs you to know that she is not afraid of death per se. She knows that because of her faith in Jesus Christ, she is going to be with her Lord and Saviour in Heaven. It is not the fact of “being dead” that is her concern. She may be afraid of the process of dying . . . and of all she is having to let go. She needs to know she can share these issues with you and you won’t scorn her beliefs.
So if you’re a Christian, come alongside her and talk openly about the joy of being with Jesus in Heaven.
If you’re not a Christian, won’t you take time to read this post? It could be a matter of life and death—not for your friend, but for you. She would want you to know this.
If you have done battle with cancer, or you are still doing so, please let us know other things you wish those close to you understood.
Also read: What Does Death Mean to You?