Posted by: 2in10 | 11/01/2011

talking to someone with cancer

In the October 28-30, 2011 edition of USA Weekend, I found an article, “Talking to Someone with Cancer.” The four suggested things to say are from Lori Hope, author of Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know.

Lori’s premise is a good one — it’s better to contact a friend and say something than to stay silent because you don’t know what to say.

Her first example: Rather than say, “How are you feeling?” say, “How’s it going?” I agree! That allows someone who may be tired of talking about his or her health to have a “normal” conversation if he/she chooses about what it’s like to be without electricity for two days, or whether or not your suburban town should put a deer management plan into place to reduce the incidence of Lime Disease and provide high quality protein, locally grown.

The 2nd example is not to mention others you know who have died of the same disease. You may think you are showing empathy, but it’s better to say you are sorry to learn this person has cancer and you will be thinking of her or him.

Rather than say, “Think positively,” (hello, Pollyanna!) it’s better to acknowledge that the person is dealing with many feelings right now and you are willing to listen whenever they would like to talk. Then be ready to be the big ear.

Offering to do a specific thing in a given timeframe, like bringing dinner next week or doing errands at the dry cleaner or grocery store, is more helpful than saying, “Let me know what I can do to help.”

In an earlier post I talked about Lotsa Helping Hands. The beauty of that online system of coordinating care is that the care recipient doesn’t have to ask friends directly for help with tasks or cope with the inevitable rejection when the people asked have conflicts. Helpers can see what is needed and choose what and when they can pitch in.

I hope you are warm, dry and safe as we recover from this weekend’s storm, Carolyn

And doing something is better than nothing and saying nothing that will take away a person’s hope is important.


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