From the murky world of social networking where I’m trying to build up a good network of people involved in the cancer world for my charity, I saw a request to become a guest blogger on www.bahtocancer.com. I sent in an entry and it was posted today (as below). Do take time to look at the Bah! to cancer site, as there’s some very interesting articles and links to organisations and services too.
As the cancer survivor we are, ourselves, always very concerned about what to say and what not to say. About how to tell people how we’re feeling but without being too self-absorbing or showing that we’re scared and frightened. We’re also, at times, worried that if we ask for too many favours now how will we ask for any when we need them more.
I was asked recently for some advice by a concerned father-in-law of a newly diagnosed breast cancer survivor. He was feeling lost and worried about what to ask or how to ask; about what to do and what not to do. He wanted to help but didn’t want to overstep the mark or interfere. He was even worried about asking me for my opinion as he didn’t want to worry me either! However I was so very pleased that he did ask and hope that what I told him.
Cancer survivors take different courses of action in telling people. Some don’t say anything. Some only tell their immediate family/friends. Some write blogs. Some post updates on Facebook or twitter. Some write letters. Some write books. Some say it like it is and others only ever provide an edited version. I wrote a blog. For me, letting others know what was going on and how I felt via a blog saved me from the many calls and retelling the news. Getting it down on ‘paper’ also was cathartic in that I pouring out my inner most feelings, often verbalising something that I’d not yet thought through – some remained, some were deleted. The truth is everyone is different and, as in life, we handle our response to cancer differently too.
My advice to him was to ask his daughter-in-law what she’d like but a few things that I found comfort in:
- Help with the little jobs.
- Turning up with a refill of milk/bread/eggs/butter without being asked and without it being a ‘big shop’.
- Little texts/emails just to say ‘hi’.
- Don’t expect my reaction to be the same today as it was yesterday… each day is different on a cancer journey and the way we deal with it is different also.
- Understand when I blow you out at the last minute for no particular excuse.
- Let me know that you’re free for a lift to the hospital or any appointments and that it’s not ‘out of your way’.
- Know that I know I look like I’ve been crying but don’t mention it directly, just give me a little hug.
- Offer to help with the big stuff but don’t stop me doing the bits I can.
- Don’t be offended if I tell you to bugga off and leave me alone – it’s not personal!
Just knowing that you’re there and can be relied upon is sometimes just enough too.