I have been a cancer survivor for a few years now. Come to think of it, I survived a number of cancers, not just mine. Since I’ve seen (and supported) a number of family and friends through their battle of cancer, I feel like I have learned a lot. Is it enough to step out of my way to offer emotional support to another cancer patient? Could I offer advice even if I haven’t experienced that type of cancer or treatment?
The other day, I received word that a friend’s son was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma cancer. My heart sank immediately. That’s one of my fears – hearing the words, “Your child has cancer.” I could only imagine the inner turmoil the parents are having. The worry you would have for your child would be off the charts.
As I spoke with my friend, she briefly expressed her concern for the unknown, something I can currently relate to. They have appointments scheduled in a few days at the children’s hospital in hopes of learning more about their cancer and treatment regimen. In the meantime, I told her to check out the American Cancer Society as it can offer some added resources before attending that appointment. I mentioned to be prepared with a list of questions as you’ll forget some of your questions if you don’t. My last tip for her was to bring a notebook to take notes. With all the information you will be receiving at the appointment, there’s a chance you’ll need to refer back to some details.
When I look at this family, I see a struggle ahead for them. There will be many appointments and treatments at the children’s hospital three hours away. They’ll have the school year to figure out. Can he go to school? Will he need a tutor? What will they do with their other two children while they are away? These are all things they’ll need to figure out quickly.
A cancer diagnosis is scary at any age, whether it’s 13, 43, or 83. Providing the emotional support that is needed is a top priority. If there’s a chance you can step up to help in any way, do it. These struggles are the times families (not just the cancer patient, but the whole family) could use the most support possible. Even though I’m looking at my own potential cancer diagnosis in the coming weeks, I know stepping up to help this family will be at the top of my list.
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