It’s hard to know what to say or do for someone who has cancer and most especially to a child diagnosed with cancer. You want to say or do the right thing, but sometimes it comes out wrong at the end. You wish to help someone who has cancer, be with them or volunteer in an organization which aids patients with cancer, but how?
Everyone’s experience with cancer is unique, so as with the children who face this kind of battle at the early age. So here are the 5 things you need to know before you visit children with this deadly disease.
- Do something. Don’t just ask, “Is there anything I can do?” If you decided to volunteer to any NGOs or private charity project, simply offer to do something. Think about first what is it that you are capable of helping one of these children who has cancer. Maybe you can feed the child, sing a song, play with them or just simply touch the child on the arm, hand, shoulder or back as little as 60 seconds just to create a human bond.
- Offer practical and appropriate gifts. If you want to give your own personalized gift, grab your shoe box, fill it with some healthy snacks, toiletries, coloring book with non-toxic crayons, books, and a card. It’s a thought that counts, no matter how big or small you can offer too few or many, it meant a lot to the child and to its family. Yes, it’s so cute to bring balloons or so sweet to bring flowers for them but we don’t know if these children are allergic or sensitive with some latex content materials or pollen from the flowers. We don’t compromise the patient’s immune system so we better be attentive first before buying what gifts to buy for them.
- If the patient cries or shouts, it’s not about you. In my experience, no matter how I give comfort to a child who is crying or shouting, it won’t stop until it will be able to get asleep. The only time that they can’t feel the pain is when they’re sleeping. The mother could not even stop the child who suffers brain cancer from crying or shouting. So, whenever you visit a child with cancer in a hospital and you see them look terrible, you don’t need to come near and give comfort. If you also feel the need to cry, don’t hold your tears, just simply step out of the room. These cancer patients and their family don’t need crying and tissues in their room because they also try to be optimistic and looking forward that they will get out from the room they have been staying for months. I don’t say it’s not okay to cry but letting the children see you cry while they are lying on their bed is not really helping at all.
- Never make unkind comments. In my previous blog, I had written on how we choose the words we could give to cancer patients or even survivors. Usually, most people make comments that they never realize could hurt someone who suffers a deadly and terminal disease. In good faith, you may say a comment that you thought it’s positive, but it’s not actually comforting to those who are already hurt physically and mentally. So, it’s a good reminder to be careful about whatever we have to say not to hurt them more especially on the emotional aspect or rather say nothing at all. It’s perfectly fine to hold yourself from speaking, there’s no need to rush. Sometimes, just being with them and offering a touch can help more than words.
- Never whine about your life’s burdens. The last but not the least, a helpful reminder that each cancer patient or a survivor like me can share with you is to never complain about life. There’s nothing to complain about. Always realize that life has been good for you and you must enjoy that. We, the cancer survivors, have been trying to show you that you must enjoy life while you have it. And remember, somebody’s worst days could be much worse for others. Everything is relative. You make your own choice on how your life would be. Would you allow your entire day to be ruined with just a small mistake happened in the morning? Your reaction matters in every situation you are facing with. It could be a positive or negative circumstance, you have the option to look at your life on the way how you view it. One way or the other, the contrast of life is, as long as we are alive, we all have ups and downs and your approach is how you handle that roller coaster called LIFE.
So, if you have a chance to visit the children with cancer, you are just completing the circle. By any means of helping others, it’s the same way of treating and helping yourself. In return, meeting these children with cancer is another way to learn from their stories. And their stories might heal you, by seeing the pain from them, in order to recognize your own pain you’ve been keeping for a long time.
Do it now, tomorrow is not guaranteed that you can help and there are no second chances. Make memories while you can with these children and don’t put anything off to do later. Who knows, your life could change in a moment you are with them.
**This blog is not intended to give a professional medical advice. It is best to always seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner whatever medical condition you may or your loved ones have at the moment.
Photo courtesy of MyHDiet.
Cielo Superticioso, is the author of The Cancer Voice Asia created last August 2017. She starts the advocacy of The Cancer Voice after she successfully beat cancer in Saigon, Vietnam by writing articles. She is committed and determined to continue the campaign in order to strengthen the cancer awareness because no one should fight cancer alone.