When presented with an illness like cancer, you have to be your own advocate. You cannot let anyone make the decisions for you. This is so personal and you have to follow your intuition and gut on treatment options. This doesn’t mean that all of the options that are suggested or offered are not valid or don’t have any benefits. It just means that this is your journey and you have to find the path that is best for you and one that you believe in. Staying positive and believing in the treatment that you have chosen for yourself is so important.
Here are some easy Do's & Dont's when you get the news that someone you know has cancer:
Do: Listen! You can’t fix it, so just hear them.
Don't: Immediately try and fix it by giving advice.
Do: Let them speak before you respond.
Don't: Lecture them. Avoid sentences that begin with “You have to…”
Do: Tell them how you are feeling; shocked, sad, scared. Be honest, it’s helpful.
Don't: Tell them any terrible cancer stories. You would think this was obvious, but hearing scary cancer scenarios is not helpful.
Do: Keep your beliefs positive, kind & understanding.
Don't: Give any unsolicited medical advice like “Tumeric kills cancer” There will be time to share ideas, just not now.
Do: What ever you share, make sure it is positive & supportive.
Don't: Make judgements or criticisms about anything they share with you.
Do: Ask how you can help? Offer to bring dinner or pick up their kids from school. Simple, practical offers are so needed.
Don't: Insist that you help. It is very hard for some people to ask for help. Offer it and let them decide if they want to accept or not.
Do: Respect any medical or non-medical options that they are investigating, even if you don’t agree.
Don't: Say “Chemo will kill you,” or anything remotely similar, that is just plain wrong.
Do: If you have first hand experience with cancer, share it, but keep it upbeat. Just because you did it differently, doesn’t make their way wrong.
Don't: Have an agenda. This is their journey, not yours. We all have the right to our own ideas and decisions.
Do: It’s ok to say “Cancer Sucks!” It does!
Don't: Ever blame the person for causing their own cancer. Don't even imply it, that is just mean and judgmental! Don’t do it!
Stay tuned for my next segment: Practical Do's & Dont's: You've offered your help...