January 13, 2015

Beating Cancer by Being Present.

anurag agnihotri/Flickr

We’ve all been struck by cancer.

If it hasn’t touched our bodies, it has reached our family. If it hasn’t wormed it’s slimy head into our family, then it’s affected a close friend.

It’s everywhere.

Despite the fact that we all know at least one person battling cancer, few of us know what to do when a friend or loved one tearfully tells us what the latest scan looks like.

Many people feel paralyzed when someone they love is given the diagnosis that there is a living cancer growing within them. We don’t know how to help those around us that are going through chemo and radiation treatments. We don’t know what to say when we see pricks, ports, and an abundance of side effects all over the body of someone we love.

We feel so…impotent. Useless. Awkward.

Unable to fix a problem that’s well over our pay grade, we’re paralyzed. They need a champion, and we wish we could step into the ring and face the Mike Tyson of diseases, but we can’t. The truth of the matter is that we can’t fix anything. There is no magic pill that we can summon from the lands of Candy Mountain to instantly make everything better. But there is something that will help them wage this war for their lives. It’s complex and yet very, very simple.


They need your presence.

They need time spent talking about mundane topics and trivial day to day chit chat. They need your patience as they struggle through the emotional maze of thoughts and feelings that boil to the surface as they grieve. They need your silence as they take the time to speak words no one should ever have to verbalize.

They need you.

They need someone to stand strong beside them as they face some of the hardest decisions of their lives. They need someone that will brave the rough waters of conversations like:

“What if I’m too tired to keep fighting?”
“How long do I have to keep having faith?”
“Will you be okay when I’m gone?”

They need your presence. You can stand beside them in solidarity. Even if you come empty handed and cotton mouthed, you have something to offer. We have more power than we could ever imagine.

That conversation you had with them about work politics reminds them of the normal life they’re fighting for. That joke you told them brings life-giving joy into their heart and soul. That meal you brought them fed more than their shrinking appetite, it fed their thirst for fellowship.

They need friends and family to rally behind them months after the initial diagnosis. You bring a unique package of gifts and dynamics that no other person on Earth is equipped to give.

Don’t believe the lie that says you should just stay away. Proceed cautiously, but please proceed.

Their lives are in your hands.


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Author: Andy Vaughn

Apprentice Editor: Aisling Mac Ateer / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: anurag agnihotri/Flickr 



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