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Archive for May, 2014

It’s only been a little over six weeks since I was told I probably had cancer and about a month since the diagnosis was confirmed. Even in that short time I have observed the difficulty some people have in dealing with the situation. Oh, I know everyone is sincerely concerned and genuinely wants to help; it’s just that sometimes it’s difficult to know what to say or do, and sometimes it comes out wrong. This is no scientific study, but I would like to make a few comments based on my condition and observations.

First of all, what I am going to suggest only reflects my specific situation and personality. People respond to adversity in different ways. Be aware of that.

And that’s the first suggestion. Try to understand the person and what they need. Do they need a person to confide in, a shoulder to cry on, or would the offer of a ride to the doctor or chemo be more meaningful? We are all different. Recognize and honor that.

Don’t be afraid of me. I’m not contagious, and I won’t fall apart if you talk to me. Actually, I will try my best to make you feel comfortable. I appreciate your interest, and your expressions of concern make me feel good, not bad.

At the same time, please don’t try to be my doctor. I chose my oncologist, because we were impressed with her during my wife’s treatment, and we have complete confidence in her. You or a family member or friend may have had a tremendous doctor, and you respect him or her. And that doctor may have elected to treat your specific situation differently from how mine is treating me. That’s because cancer is not just one disease. It takes numerous forms and seemingly endless combinations. The forms of treatment have expanded, so that each specific type of cancer can be treated in a manner that is most beneficial. My oncologist knows that and has prescribed a course of treatment accordingly. Please don’t try to get me to switch to your doctor, because my doctor’s approach is different. Support and encourage me in my treatment.

If the situation is advanced and the outcome uncertain (as mine is), you don’t need to pretend that it isn’t. By all means, pray for me, and pray for healing. But don’t do it in a manner that might seem to come across as flippant. Believe me; I know more about my condition and prognosis than you ever will. I don’t need to be coddled. Comfort and encouragement mean much more.

Finally, while I appreciate your concern, it’s okay and healthy to talk about other things. Whatever time I may have left in this life, I want to spend it in a positive manner. I don’t wish to sit home waiting to die. Death will come on its own. In the meantime, I want to experience whatever good things I can in this life in whatever time I have left. That especially includes the relations I have with family, friends, and loved ones. Don’t cut yourself off from me, and know that there are no “right words” to say. Help me to experience the beauty and joy that can be found in each day.

These are just a few thoughts that came to me today, as I am still struggling with the effects of my first chemo. They are meant to encourage, not criticize. I hope they may speak to you.

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