insights

04 December 2018

I Need Your Help

Horizon

“How can I help when someone I love develops cancer?”

This seems to be a simple question, and the answer can be both easy and difficult. A simple answer is the fact that you cannot help if your aim is to cure them. You also may not be helping if your plan is to bring a casserole and then leave as quickly as possible.

True, there is no formula that fits everyone, and true, you may not be able to cure your loved one’s illness, but you can do something meaningful. You can be with them, and you can give them care and kindness.

This sounds like a cliché, but I am far from wanting to reaffirm an old adage. To be there for someone and to provide kindness and care are easily said or thought, but are neither easily done nor attainable for everyone. When someone we love suffers, we hurt, too. Witnessing pain is painful. And when we hurt, many of us tend to avoid what causes the pain. At other times, we may forget, and even in the presence of our ill friend, it becomes more about our pain than about their struggle.

So the first rule of thumb is to be there for the other person.

Still, at times, although we strive to be there for them, it may not be enough. Remember that being there for someone does not mean doing things for them, although it could sometimes include that, for sure. Being there in the wider context means listening to what your loved one wants to say or hear, being mindful of their preferences and providing them for your loved one, if you can.

Be your authentic self, and do not feel the need to hide your emotions all the time. Sometimes, the person who is struggling with cancer desires nothing more than to perceive the genuine emotions of others rather than only their caring, but distractedly busy, hands.

Finally, it is always good to cherish the moment. What many cancer survivors have learned to appreciate is that they live in the here and now. Some of us know what it means to not see unlimited horizons. We know how it feels to look far away, only to get our sight reflected back to where we are in the here and now.

But that can be a good thing since we still have today.

You may not be able to cure my cancer. But you can simply be with me as I become and as I am in the moment of here and now.