As I write, my dear friend and co-founder of SaveGoodness, Meri Lee, and her husband Carl are flying cross country. They are on a mission that will require them to be away for a number of weeks. Their journey will take them from the hills of Tennessee to the coast of California, for one reason. They are going to crush cancer. In 2012 Carl found out that he was host to that word we ALL hate to hear. Fortunately, his cancer was not acutely aggressive but it could not, of course, be ignored. After much research and deliberation he made his decision for specialized treatment in California which is beginning here at the threshold of 2013. The mission they are facing is all I can think about. I consider it my mission as well.
It seems like this nemesis, cancer, is attacking friends and family, young and old at an alarming rate. I could spiral off into all kinds of rants about the quality of food we eat, the toxins in our water and in our homes, the ways we have abandoned what is natural for what is easy, and how it is all related to our ability to fight cancer, but that is not the point of this post. Today I want to talk about how to bring Goodness into the cancer equation. Simply – what do you do when someone you love gets cancer?
Everyone has a unique approach to life, and thus, to cancer. Some people are terrified while others shield themselves from the realities of this battle. It is imperative, if you want to bring Goodness to the situation, that you first and foremost– Know where your loved one is on the cancer map. Are they wide-eyed looking cancer in the face, staring it down and daring it to cross them? Or are they in denial – acting as if nothing is happening, maybe telling themselves it isn’t true? Most likely they are somewhere in between – trying to balance themselves on the tightrope between sickness and health, life and death. It is a fine line to walk to stay encouraged and hopeful when you know something is trying to kill you.
The principal kindness that Goodness can bring is to look closely and see where they are in relation to their cancer – where are they on the cancer map? Then start the journey with them there and walk together toward health. If you stand in a different place, no matter how accurate your perception is about their cancer, they will most likely not be able to hear you and they will not feel you are with them – because you are not. Go and stand where they are. Try to sense what THEY are feeling – not what you are feeling. Begin the journey from the place where they are and use your gentle influence to move them closer to a healthy place. Goodness is patient and willing to get close.
Next, try to separate your feelings from their feelings. I think this is one of the most difficult parts of helping someone through cancer – especially if it is a person you love dearly. Cancer makes everyone feel threatened. The person fighting the cancer has an obvious struggle and so do their family and friends. Feel your feelings – whatever they are, but try not to confuse how you feel with what the person fighting cancer feels. Imagine it this way. In life everyone is simply trying to keep their boat afloat. When you throw your feelings over into someone else’s boat it makes their burden heavier and threatens to sink their ship. Focus on keeping your feelings in place and let the person with cancer know you are there for them. You can help tow them, but don’t get in their boat. Likewise, they must stay in their place. Healthy boundaries on both sides make this difficult journey safer and better for all.
Inspire Courage. One of the kindest things you can give a person fighting cancer is inspiration to take courage. This battle is tough and must be faced minute by minute, day by day. To feel supported is so important, but to inspire courage is an even greater gift. Courage says “fear is here but what you are doing is more important than this fear.” Courage says, “I am with you, we will get through this together.” Courage says, “I am not afraid to be with you in your pain.” Courage says, “I will believe in you even when you can’t.” Look for ways to convey strength and confidence. You don’t have to have all the answers or be able to predict the future, you just have to be fully present and let them know they are worth fighting for.
Cause Hope. A focus on the future is important to fighting cancer successfully. One close friend of mine was encouraged to start redecorating her home during her battle. By doing this she was making an investment in her future and creating a space that she wanted to LIVE in. She also adopted a cat which helped her shift her focus on to caring for something outside of herself. Meri Lee keeps reminding us all, especially Carl, that by the time his birthday rolls around in March he will be cancer free! This is an excellent way to face forward and focus on what is ahead. If the future is not bright for your friend or family member then be sure to find out what their hopes and dreams are for the people around them. This is an excellent way to help their hopes stay alive even if they know they will not be here to see them fulfilled.
The journey through cancer is full of challenges and unexpected emotions. It causes us to pause and consider life differently. It may unearth feelings that you did not know were buried inside you – whether you have cancer or are caring for someone who does. We recommend that you take time to consider your own heart. Give your heart your full attention so that you can maneuver through this maze fully intact. We recommend that you read the FREE download available in our store “Field Guide to Goodness.” It will help you think about and understand your own heart and how to care for it.
As you face cancer with your loved one or friend, remember these four important things that will invite Goodness:
- Locate where they are on the cancer map and start there, then journey together.
- Try to keep your own feeling separate from theirs. Stay in your boat and keep afloat!
- Inspire Courage – Courage is a vital tool and you can help create it.
- Cause Hope – Hope is a rope to help pull you through the muck and mire of cancer. Even if the outcome is grim, people still have hopes and dreams for others. Focus on the hope that it will not always be this way. Hope will see you through.
Please share this message with anyone who might benefit from it. May you find all the Goodness that you need today!
What can you do when someone you love has cancer? Goodness will help you.