Are you caring for someone with cancer? Read this. ⇔
October 2018. www.krigline.com ⇔
[With friends who have cancer, and a sister who is a survivor, the following caught my attention, so I wanted to add it to my website. Links to the online source, and to another helpful article, are at the bottom. -MK]
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Top Things to Know If You’re Trying to Comfort a Cancer Patient
Rev Long is a hospital chaplain. Years ago, a patient said she received better pastoral care from hospital chaplains than she did from her home church. That made the chaplain realize churches need to learn how to specifically minister to cancer patients, which led to “Our Journey of Hope,” a successful program raising up cancer ministries in local churches.
Reverend LaWanda Long says among other things, cancer ministers learn what to say and what not to say to people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
1. Don’t discount their grief. “I hear a lot of patients tell me that they don’t like it when people tell them, ‘Oh, it’s just hair,’ or ‘That surgery is no big deal because you’re going to live through this.’ A lot of times when people lose body parts, whether it’s their hair, bladder, breast or kidney, they do grieve that. So I think we have to make sure we hear their hearts. It’s not just a body part or hair, it’s a part of them. Avoid telling people how to feel or think. “When someone’s going through a cancer journey,” explained Reverend Long, “their feelings are just their feelings. Don’t say, ‘You shouldn’t feel that way’ or ‘You shouldn’t think that way’ because when people are told that, they feel minimized as if they don’t matter.”
2. Have compassion, not sympathy. Sympathy can imply distance and authority, leading to the patient feeling lonely and isolated. “Sometimes when people say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ it’s almost as if they’re over there, and you’re right here. If you say, ‘Listen, I’m with you and we’re going to get through this together and whatever you need I’m here for you,’ that’s very different than saying, ‘I’m sorry for you.'”
3. Don’t cast doubt on their treatment plan. “Sometimes we tell people, ‘Oh you just need to pray. Don’t take that chemo,’ or ‘Don’t take that radiation.’ Don’t be critical of someone’s treatment plan. God is in all of it,” said Reverend Long, “Sometimes I meet people who have great faith, but they begin to lose hope.” It’s OK to share your own experience, or things that have worked for you, but many factors go into a treatment plan.
4. Don’t talk to a cancer patient about another cancer patient who died. “It’s important that we don’t spread negativity,” she said, adding, “That’s one thing about going through a cancer journey, you have to stay positive.”
Finally, my sister says that the resource that was most helpful during her own battle with cancer (she is now cancer free) is John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Cancer: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer
Scriptures quoted on this website are primarily from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982; also on line at www.biblegateway.com
For more information about Christianity, check out https://peacewithgod.net/
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