For someone who has cancer like me, I am very grateful that you come and visit me in the hospital. Thank you for the cards, a bouquet of flowers and fruits you brought. Glad you initiated a campaign or a fundraising for me – WITHOUT ASKING. I would have said no if you ask me before you did that.
Don’t get me wrong, the phrases, “Let me know what I can do to help” or “Don’t hesitate to call on me” does not mean are not very helpful. Well, I respect your thoughtfulness. But, tell you what, I’m not going to give a reply with what you are asking me. No matter how much you have shown your good intentions, I doubt that would even turn out to be very much helpful because my mind is already filled up with many stuff, negative emotions, and physical discomfort.
I do appreciate and love when you take charge and just do things out of your intention of helping. According to psychological learning, when people are in difficulties or in calamities, the logical part of their brain doesn’t operate well. So, when you ask me what do I need, it will be just a waste all the time. I will not even be able to think of what I need! What will more likely happen is I will be terribly worn out, so giving you a suggestion what you can do to help me is — POINTLESS.
I am not either demoralizing your desire to help, so instead of saying those phrases, I would rather admire if you could say, “I will try my best to help you by any means.” Act your plan even without telling me or anyone what you want to do. If you have many options and you think they are all doable, try to do them one at a time. Bringing foods that prepared by yourself (I appreciate if it’s health-wise), a simple visit (that would be lovely), an errand (taking care of my hospital records or any help you could offer), financial help, or to stay awake each time I need a hand in the middle of the night or early morning. Whatever mood you can bring into my hospital room or bedroom they are all great offers.
However, there are times that I really need to be alone especially when I am not feeling well. You may make a surprise visit, but I may not be able to appreciate it since I feel like I need to stay awake just to talk to you when I really need to nap or sleep because it might burden me with more stress.
To avoid misunderstandings I want to give you some ideas to have a mutual agreement between us:
I will be pleased to be informed which day and what time you are available. You can give me a ring or send SMS prior to that.
You can be specific what you can offer to help. A good and effective discussion will be much more helpful and will not suffer our relationship either.
Make up your mind once we had agreed your visitation or offer to help and give it a go. Be there and do it!
And finally, when you feel doubt, please do tell me. If my medical situation makes you feel unbearable or you don’t have any idea what to help but you really want to give me a leg up, just say your case. Just don’t disappear and make me wonder why I never hear any single word from you since the time I was diagnosed with cancer. That would be more upsetting on my part and there will be more misinterpretations that might come along the way that might completely wreck the good relationship we used to build because of a lack of communication.
A simple conversation, hug — if words are nowhere to find or just being there even you can’t say anything is enough. Your presence is enough and your support will never end there.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT MEAN TO BE ABOUT MYSELF. I opt to use the first-person singular pronoun “I” to make this more personal to the reader who has cancer or a survivor and the second-person singular pronoun “you” to someone who is willing to help but no idea what and how to and hoping that somehow this could make an impact on every reader.
Do you feel the same way when somebody offers a help that way? Let me know your thoughts, write your comment below. Thank you.
Have you read my previous article yet? Yes, this article that was published in I Had Cancer community. There wasn’t any single moment that I wish I will stop talking about cancer. I hope you got it and I am able to help you to understand.
Well, hello again, call me Cielo (in case you missed to remember my name) and I fought cancer, that’s my superpower. I am one of the superheroes who beat cancer.
I am writing this article to say what I exactly feel. That – even superheroes have bad days. Are you familiar with this line? You guys must have watched the most awaited movie of the year, The Avengers. Yeah, I love those superheroes, too! But, that line is not inspired by these supercool superheroes. To be honest, I got this line from the storytime with my preschool kids today. It’s lovely how we teach children about life skills that adults are supposed to know, too, but we teach them in a fun and comical way (will adults would love the same way of learning like children do?).
Let me share some of the lines from the story that mean so much to me as a person who survives the death of cancer.
“When superheroes don’t get their way, when they’re sad, when they’re mad, when they have a bad day…”
“…they could use their superpowers to kick, punch, and pound. They could shriek-they could screech with an ear-piercing sound (sounds annoying if I could imagine).”
“But upset superheroes have all sorts of choices… Instead of destruction and loud, livid voices… Instead, they dig down to their super-best part, the strong super-powers contained in their heart!”
“And using their talents as true heroes should, they battle the urge to do harm (though they could). They acknowledge their sorrow, their anger, their pain, as they wait for their super-emotions to wane (Uhmm… namaste!)”
“It’s okay if they frown. It’s okay if they sigh. It’s okay if they slump down and cry (boohoo!!!) BUT THEN they get up and get on with their day…”
“…saving the world in their most super way.”
It’s easy to take pity on someone you know got cancer but we don’t really need your pity. As we beat cancer’s plot to execute us, we would like to take pride in as a part of this big community that beats this deadly disease. Just imagine how we escape death, it also means we escape from being stuck of being afraid and uncertain. And that’s one of the things we are proud for!
But, we are still the same human beings after we beat cancer. We have our bad days, too. But we try not to take advantage of being someone used to be a victim of cancer and look for sympathy. So, whenever we feel upset, a bit sick, sad, mad or like breaking down and wanted to cry hard, we also do our best not to give worries to someone who loves us. Until then, we are sure that our emotions are grounded again, we get up, show up and save our little world with the people who love us in our most super way!
I know that this article is all about cancer survivors. But, hey! You don’t need to have cancer to be a superhero. You don’t need to have cancer to call yourself a survivor. Whatever life’s circumstances and choices you have now, you just only need to save yourself like what every survivor do. There’s no prince charming in every life’s story or knight in a shining armor, there’s no rescue boat and no one’s coming to save you. You have to stop waiting you get picked and continue to push forward to not give up (Reworded as I was inspired by this video).
Does this article resonate with you? Share your thoughts, leave a comment below!
Yes, I still talk about my cancer because this is my life now. I still talk to those who are open to listening. I still talk about it, but it’s not as if my time is only spent on talking about my fight with cancer. Like you, I am living in the present moment. Like you, I’d move on. I’ve moved forward, but it is not learned in a day. It is learned for months. It’s like moving on from someone who broke your heart, but of course, you can still talk about that person, am I right?
No, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you are not interested to hear about cancer awareness or myself talking about my cancer journey. It doesn’t hurt my feelings because I’m a superhero. I’m a warrior!
The truth is, you don’t want to hear any cancer stories because you are afraid, you are annoyed, and the truth is, I don’t care if you won’t listen.
The reason why I write, why I share my story with you, what my life is now after cancer, is to connect with you. I don’t want you to feel sad or sorry for me. No, never. Instead, I want us to talk the same language. Yes, it’s difficult to be in cancer patients or survivors’ shoes. It’s not easy to be aware and sensitive to our feelings in order to help or comfort us. But, you can listen to us. I know there is no right word that you can say to someone who has cancer. Your sincerity matters even when there are no words you can utter. You can also control your judgment towards us, that way you could have a deeper understanding of our journey.
No one is invincible. I could never wish that cancer would happen to you. I share because I want everyone to be aware of their health, to get a checkup.
Think of the people you love and treasure them. Cancer could be someone’s end of life or beginning of a new life. It could be a warning, trial, and a lesson not only to us, who had cancer but for everyone. We all die one day, but don’t let cancer steal your joy and kill you.
Everything happens during the fight with cancer, and it has changed me big time. As a survivor, I embrace a new life beyond the illness. I am sharing with you my journey compassionately.
How do you feel about sharing your cancer journey with others? Share your story in the comments below!