Somewhere along the path of cancer we begin to loss our connection to the world around us. We become shelters in our family cocoons of comfort that this is only happening to me and my family. Why us! Why can’t the world accommodate to our needs and wants. Why do prices have to go up? Why can’t we sleep, cause the room next to us is being so loud? You get the point, the exhaustion of fear sets in and we can’t be lifted from the tears of our frustrations.
As you are entering the cancer hospital try to keep one thing in mind, and that is, cancer has brought us all together to this one facility. We are all in this together whether you feel it’s just you or not. Of course, we each experience different types of cancers, but we are all scared. We are all scared of one thing. The thought of losing a loved one or leaving our loved ones.
Well. In those lousy times of distress try to show a little hospitality unto others and be respectful to the facility’s that truly care for you in every way (CTCA) below are ways to show hospitality to others and a little old-fashion southern charm.
1. Oh Uncle Earl, just stop being so rude about cafeteria prices going up. Maybe there are sensible reasons behind the price. Maybe you’re helping give a few extra tax dollars for the new construction of rooms being added, for those who are patiently awaiting to experience the same care as you.
2. Richy Rich, please stop thinking people live beneath you. Given our age and stage of life, we may be pinching pennies or ordering extra cheese in line. But this is not about money. Generosity is a way of life. Pay for the person behind you or give a nice worker a hug with a, “thank you for changing my bed sheets”. You never know that same worker, may have taken the day off to attend a funeral for someone they were close to at the facility. And they might do the same for you one day.
3. Negative Nancy, you are sharing the waiting room with 20 other patients and caregivers. So act like it. While you wait give someone your chair, stand up and look around the room, what do you see? Do you see an old lady lying in a chair? Get her a warm blanket. Do you see someone in tears? Approach them. Sometimes a pat on the back is all it takes. Tell them you know what they are going through. Exchange numbers.
4. You don’t have to say something amazing just to cheer someone up. we are all thinking the same thing. such as “God meant for this to happen” … “this will be a good thing in the end” … “whatever Gods will is” … we don’t want to hear any of this encouragement. If you do have to say something – simply say, “I know what you are going through”.
5. DO NOT make the patient next to you about you! DO NOT make their cancer or illness about you. We don’t care to hear about your problems in the midst of our own. Sure, it’s important to you at the time and we all understand everyone goes through trying times but no need to say, “my uncle lived 10 years” “my dad survived this” “they will pull through” .. yadda yadda yadda. Of course, it’s encouraging but really the simple conversations the better. And by no means, brag about how good you have it. “I just won a new car” “I got the bonus I’ve been looking for” “we are about to go on vacation” – really good for you!
6. DON’T try to be a doctor
7. No matter how important your relationship is, don’t stay to long or linger. Even if you are trying to encourage someone beside you. Don’t over do it.
8. Caregivers – If you see someone who is a caregiver offer them time to sit with your loved one. Even if it’s just to step away to breathe for a second. offer them a break.
9. Before you approach someone, try to be prepared of what you are going to say, what you are going to give them, what you are going to hear in return. You may walk away feeling, “well, that isn’t how I thought it would go” … and that’s ok!
10. And finally, Let them vent. Let them do most of the talking. Let them share whatever they want to share. Even if it’s not about an illness. Simply allowing them to vent about the morning’s breakfast is just fine.
I think one of the challenges in observing other people go through suffering is that we don’t know how to deal with ambiguity or silence. We try to fill the spaces and fix a situation that is unfixable, or make a situation seem better when the situation really just sucks, anyway you slice it. In my limited experience, it’s helpful to simply be there, to listen if they want to talk, and provide support and a hug if they want it, and definitely take care of the small things that they may not have the mental energy to tackle, like laundry or making copies of doctors notes or whatever.
***thank you Cancer Treatment Center of America for sponsoring this post