Today's Blog Post is from WhatNexter Barbara Jacoby from the Website LetLifeHappen.com. Barbara is a two time breast cancer survivor and she also lost her Father to lung cancer and Brother to renal cancer. As you might imagine, cancer advocacy and supporting other cancer patients and survivors is a passion of hers.
One of the toughest things that a person will ever have to deal with is finding out that someone they know has cancer. What do you say? What can you do? What do they need that you can supply? So many questions go through your mind but no answers seem to be in sight. After all, each person is an individual and what one person may want, another person would never consider so how does one know how to handle this situation
For me, it is easier now that I am a two-time breast cancer survivor. I know what worked for me and that was being allowed to take the lead. A cancer patient feels helpless upon learning of their diagnosis because their very life is in the hands of the medical professionals who happen to be in their sphere. For some, they are surrounded by lots of family and friends who are telling them what they should do. For others, they are alone and may be struggling to find someone, anyone, to be a support system for them. But, regardless of a person’s situation, being empowered to lead the way is the most positive response that another person can give to them.
For some patients, they have no desire to do anything for themselves. They prefer to have someone else tell them what to do, how to do it, when to do it and why to do it. If that is the patient with whom you are dealing, do that which you are comfortable doing but do not take personal responsibility for their choices. Allow this person to decide what they want to do in concert with the recommendations of their doctors and do not allow yourself to be put into the position of being blamed for the outcome of any decision. If that person does not care enough to do what is necessary to fight for their life, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change that. As frustrating as that may seem, you must understand that regardless of what you want, you can’t force another person to do anything that they do not wish to do.
For other patients, you may find that they want some responsibility for their own care or they may want full control. This makes your part so much easier. Offer to lend your help and support in those ways that will not put you in a disadvantageous situation. Do not feel that you need to do everything that is asked of you if it does not fit into your schedule. If you give that part of you that is comfortable, you will never end up being resentful of the patient and in the long run, this will be so much better for you and the patient.
The single biggest thing you can do is to keep your opinions to yourself. Allow the patient to select what they want to do as far as treatment and care is concerned even if you are not in agreement. If you want to provide research and information to them, provide it in a form that they can take to their own doctor(s) for discussion and a determination as to whether it might even fit into the individual’s best plan for treatment and recovery. Each patient is different and hopefully, their treatment is geared to them personally and will be the perfect plan to provide the best outcome imaginable.
Finally, there are patients like me who want nothing from anyone, not even to discuss any facet of the treatment nor anything about how I was feeling. This has nothing to do with those around me who might have wanted to provide support. For me, I wanted to handle things in a very precise sequence. Tell me what’s wrong, tell me what is recommended and I will agree or disagree with what is suggested. I have things to do, places to go, people to see. I want to live and enjoy each day. I will show up for my appointments, have surgeries, report for follow up treatments, etc. but this cancer will not define my life. In addition, I didn’t want recommendations from others or help in making my choices because should anything go wrong, I didn’t want anyone else to feel responsibility because of having given me their personal recommendation. In the end, we each have this life and it is our decision alone as to how we want to live it.
Today just happens to be the 5th anniversary of Barbara's website www.letlifehappen.com and her blog. Stop by her page and check it out.