**I shared this post earlier on my Facebook Page……and wanted to share it on my blog as well.**
So I felt compelled to share some friendly recommendations:
If you know someone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer – most importantly – show them some grace. The world as they knew it just turned upside down and chances are, they are struggling to adjust to this news and figure out just what this means for them…..and their families. And while they are struggling with this – their calendar is filling up with tests and scans and appointments. It’s a lot of information and change all at once. Allow them to feel however they feel. Their feelings are valid – and they can be sad or hurt or disappointed for a while…….but it’s our job as friends and family to pray them through those difficult times and encourage them to move forward. The timing is different for every single person.
Offer SUPPORT. That can be through prayers, phone calls, texts, emails, cards, meals, transportation, running errands, cleaning house, help with kids, etc. That support is invaluable to the patient and it’s important to know that some people struggle ASKING for help. Don’t wait to be asked. OFFER the help.
Make sure any “stories” you share with them are ENCOURAGING. Don’t be a Debbie Downer – they need to hear uplifting stories, not those that are going to discourage them. If you can’t say something nice (encouraging) – don’t say anything at all.
Stay in touch. Not just at the beginning – but through the entire fight. Be that friend who sticks around til the end. Folks are often bombarded with support during the first few weeks…….and then that support often dwindles over the coming weeks. It can be as simple as saying to them “I don’t know what to say – but please lknow that I am here for you.” Be that person who checks in often…….shows up unexpectedly…….and rides in the passenger seat until they reach the finish line!
Get the patient OUT OF THE HOUSE! When the patient is having good days and feeling good – offer to drive them to the grocery store, or the park, or just on a drive around town. Any trip that is NOT cancer related. Be aware, however, that almost instantly, they may tire and need to return home. And you technically don’t have to leave home – on pretty days, get them to sit outside on the deck and enjoy the sunshine…..or a cool breeze.
This is a big one ya’ll…….so take note……
DO NOT…….I repeat DO NOT give unsolicited advice. I had a boss once who often said “ free advice is usually worth what you pay for it”. Keep your personal opinions to yourself. Do NOT judge the patient for the decisions they make regarding their doctors, treatments, surgeries, etc. Because let’s be honest – UNLESS YOU, TOO, have been diagnosed with cancer – you cannot possibly understand. No disrespect is intended……but you have no idea of the multitude of factors that go into determining the best course of treatment for each individual patient. Things like age, type of cancer, stage of cancer, was it invasive or not, hormone receptors, what are the chances it may recur, what did their genetic testing reveal, if we do option A, then chemo won’t be needed, or if we do option B, that means more radiation. There is no “RIGHT” or “ WRONG” choice to make. It is strictly up the individual and their doctors what the best course of action is IN THEIR PARTICULAR SITUATION. And I’m going to get a little personal here……but in the case of a woman diagnosed with BREAST CANCER……the decisions that SHE makes regarding what is best for HER and HER BREASTS are not up for discussion!! PERIOD. You don’t get to say “why didn’t she have a mastectomy” or “i would NEVER consider removing my breasts”, or “well why WOULDN’T you do this or that”. NOOOOO. This is HER body and HER decision. It’s your job to support them – whatever those decisions are.
For me personally, I’d always said if I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I would definitely have a double mastectomy. And I felt that way when I was initially diagnosed. HOWEVER, after all the pathology was done, and we sat down with the surgeon and she explained ALL of my options. It became clear to me that I would be able to achieve the same end results with a lumpectomy. When given the facts and figures – it just made sense FOR ME!! And when first diagnosed with cancer, I assumed I would have reconstruction surgery at some point. Fortunately, the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 is a Federal Law that basically allows women to have reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. This wasn’t always the case – insurance did not always cover this. https://www.cms.gov/…/Other-Insurance-Prote…/whcra_factsheet
However, my radiation doctor advised me to wait 2 years after completing treatment to make a decision. Two years? Turns out she was right. My breast was swollen at one point due to lymphedema in my breast…….and radiation tends to shrink the breast and even make it more firm. I’m just now getting to a place where I would feel like I’m as “normal” as I’m going to get after surgery and treatment. And truth of the matter is – my surgeon did a fantastic job with my two lumpectomy surgeries and lymph node excision. There is very little overall change in my breast……and for ME – at this point in time, the thoughts of another surgery, more doctors appointments, etc, etc., just do not appeal to me. But i wholeheartedly reserve the right to change my mind at any point in the future – and I’m thankful that the current laws allow me that luxury.
So if you have stayed with me to the end – thank you. And I hope that you will share these recommendations with others……and I hope that you will be the friend that sticks around to the finish line. I know first hand what that looks like – and I’m super thankful for those that walked alongside me every step of the way.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!