What To Say To Someone With Cancer
by Mary Olsen Kelly
Living with cancer is a confusing chaotic circus where everyone has an opinion about what you should do. They are absolutely positive that they know what alternative medicine, meditations, special diets, and attitudes you ought to have. If they were in your position, they would do it this way or that way. Not the way you are choosing to heal yourself. Anything but that.
Authors are the worst. There are many books about cancer; some of them would shock you. I have actually read that if I had drunk the wheat grass juice like I was supposed to, I wouldn’t have had breast cancer; that various herbs and potions and compresses will take the cancer away; and that once you have done any western medicine treatments, your immune system is so shot that you will not be able to heal. How is it helpful to read something like that?
I have read that it is due to my emotional background that I got cancer, which obviously stems from the way that I haven’t nurtured myself because, after all, the breasts are for feeding and nurturing, right? Also, I haven’t given myself enough private time, I have given too much to others and not taken care of myself.
Then there is the approach that advocates complete and total life change, implying that your life was wrong, unhealthy, and caused severe illness. In this one you must leave your husband – he is certainly the one to blame – and go off and start a completely new life doing only the things that you have always wanted to do.
I’m not sure which of these angers me the most. Oh wait, I do know. The ones that are written by people who do not have cancer. And guess what, that is almost all of them. Louise Hay is the only author writing about alternative healing who actually had cancer. The rest of them? Perfectly healthy.
It amazes me that someone who hasn’t ever been in the position of the targeted reader would have the audacity to write a cancer book advocating their own pet alternative healing techniques. It seems to me that if you haven’t been there, you can’t advise. It is as simple as that. If you haven’t heard the words ÒYou have cancer,Ó you do not have a clue. You do not know what you would choose if you found yourself in the situation that we who live with cancer must face each day.
When you are given a pathology report that outlines the exact levels of viciousness your cancer exhibits, you know only one thing: that you want to fight it with the strongest ammunition that exists, and that isn’t parsley paste. Ken Wilbur calls it Òwhite man’s medicineÓ – surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy Ð cut it out, burn it out, and poison it. You’re focused on saving your own life, or at least buying yourself some more years to enjoy this precious life.
So what do you do if your dearest friend or family member has cancer? You support their choice. You listen to why they have decided to take the course of action they are on, and you stand by them. You don’t discredit the treatments, you support their ability to trust and believe in the treatment.
The mind-body connection is very strong and it is proven that if a patient believes that they will heal using a certain treatment, their chances are much better that they will heal using that treatment. You can be afraid with them, you can be furious at the cancer with them, you can be sad with them. But when it comes to the treatments they are going through, you stand by them and help them to believe.
Believe that they will get well. Believe that they will survive and thrive. Believe that you will too.
Copyright 2003 Breast Wishes Institute