Those of us, at any age, who feel perfectly fine, pay little attention to the maladies of others, and yet, few people can claim to have perfect health. We all develop some sort of physical problem it seems.
Take diabetes for example, a condition that affects both young and old. Generations ago, limited treatment was available for those who suffered from the disease. This is not the case today, however. Great strides have been made in the medical field to control the advance of this condition.
The same holds true for cancer. In the past, there was so much fear associated with cancer that people seldom even wanted to talk about it, much less face-up to the possibility of cancer invading their own family. Typically, it was fear of the unknown, followed by stories of loved ones who had lost the battle. While we are unable to change the past events, I believe we can adjust our attitude for the future by becoming better informed on the subject and showing support, caring and encouragement to those who are in treatment. Thousands of men and women have fought against cancer and won.
We should not be hesitant to become involved in the life of a cancer patient, but rather, reach out and embrace them. There is nothing to fear. We cannot “catch” cancer from someone else, unlike the common cold. As a volunteer team member or cheerleader during the weeks of treatment, most people, (including myself), discover an untapped source of compassion within ourselves. Surprisingly, we often find that being a friend to someone with cancer is a positive experience for both parties. Whatever the outcome, the treatment phase seems to be the time period when encouragement is most needed by a cancer patient.
Actually, it’s a win-win situation: the patient feels comforted in knowing that they are not a lone warrior going into this battle. Cancer survivors report how much it meant to them, having a “partner” during the tough times, the days when they wanted to give up, to surrender.
And for the “cancer friend”, there is a sense of accomplishment, of doing something positive rather than sitting around feeling helpless. While the friend may not be a medical person, they still can offer support by showing concern, through phone calls, cards and letters, as well as emails and texts.
Rewards come in many forms. For the cancer patient and cancer friend, the payment lies in building a relationship, sharing emotions with successes and failures, having someone to care about, and not being alone.
The person undergoing cancer treatment feels rewarded when radiation and chemo are completed and they reached that goal without faltering, with the aid of a friend.
Spending time and effort with a cancer patient is never wasted, it is very gratifying, and that’s part of the reward for a friend.
Let’s face cancer together, and be a friend to those who need us, you won’t regret it, it’s an exceptional journey.