I've written here and there about my dad's battle with lung cancer, and more recently, my mom's melanoma diagnosis. I try not to flood my blog with the day-in and day-out of having a loved one battle cancer. I know that so many of you are praying for both of my parents, and I'm so grateful for that, but it's not something I always like to talk about in such a public forum, and I don't think it's something that my parents would want to see my blog be focused on.
The past two years have been some of the hardest in my life. I've seen both of my parents come to their knees at the foot of the cross (and I've been with them), praying for healing on a daily basis. I've seen my dad not feel well, and I've seen him ride 150 miles on his bike in two days. It's a roller coaster ride and not one that I would wish on anyone.
However, I can tell you two things: 1) your prayers and the prayers of our church family have completely sustained us over these last two years and 2) the support, encouragement, and advice from those who have gone before us in this walk have been invaluable.
I know that talking to someone who has a cancer diagnosis or who is the caretaker of someone with a cancer diagnosis isn't easy. I can tell that it isn't from the way that some people stumble over their words or just don't reach out at all. I get it. It's uncomfortable. You're probably wondering about the hard things, like prognosis and will he lose his hair with the chemo treatments and well if that last scan looked good, then why isn't he feeling well? Here's a secret: we wonder too sometimes. If you've read any of my posts about my parents' walks with cancer, you know that we wonder, but we believe. We believe in total and complete healing and a God who has already gone before us.
And we also believe in advocating and educating. If you know someone with a cancer diagnosis, then here are a few little tips:
1 // Don't ignore it, but don't make it the focus of every conversation. Knowing that you care enough to ask is touching, but it's important that cancer doesn't become the person's identity.
2 // Watch your words. I can't tell you how many people have told me stories about so-and-so who had cancer and lost their battle, or who said my dad just needed to repent of his sins or pray harder for healing (um, not how healing works!), or the guy that told my dad that if it was stage IV then that's basically a death sentence. People either mean well or they just don't think before they speak. Don't be one of those people. Put yourself in your friend's shoes and think "would this be an encouraging, life-giving thing to hear if I was going through a cancer diagnosis?" If the answer is "no", then keep it to yourself.
3 // Ask how you can help, and offer suggestions. For example: you don't have to take on every task or chore that the person has, but simply offer to watch their kids or bring them a meal, or maybe even cut their grass. They might say no at first, but keep asking.
4 // Be there. It's crazy how people disappear when you are facing a serious illness, so don't disappear. Even if the person pushes you away or withdraws. Actually, especially in those two cases. That's probably a sign that they need you more than they want to admit.
5 // No matter how recently the person has been diagnosed, they are a survivor. You learn a lot of terminology pretty quickly when facing a cancer diagnosis, but one of my favorite terms has always been "survivor." No matter where someone is in their fight, whether they were diagnosed yesterday or they've been in remission for a decade, they are a cancer survivor.
Allstate has put together a free companion guide to the book, The Silver Lining. The companion guide is available as an instant download ebook, which you can get here, and I can't encourage you enough to download it, read it, and share it with anyone who might be facing cancer, but more specifically, breast cancer, as that is what the author was diagnosed with. With over 250,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, finding advice and encouragement from other survivors is key to keeping a positive attitude.
Allstate created the Silver Lining Companion Guide as a way to offer practical tips, important information, and inspiration to the person walking through a breast cancer diagnosis. Personally, I also found much of it to be true of other cancer battles as well. The guide is available in English and Spanish, as well as in print at select Allstate agencies nationwide.
HAVE YOU OR HAS SOMEONE YOU KNOW BEEN RECENTLY DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST? BE SURE TO PASS ON THIS FREE RESOURCE IF YOU FEEL IT COULD HELP SOMEONE!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.