Saturday, May 31, 2014

What Not to Say...

Lately I've seen several articles about "What Not to Say..." and decided to play along with What Not to Say to a Cancer Patient. I don't intend for this post to be accusatory - instead I hope it's helpful. Sometimes you don't think about what is or isn't encouraging until you've been on the receiving end of a comment that is... or isn't...

So... here are a few things I would suggest NOT saying to a cancer patient...

I had a friend with cancer. She died. 

Really??? I've just been diagnosed with cancer and you're telling me about a friend who DIED? For the record, that is NOT encouraging!!! I'm already scared - as well as my family. We don't need reminded of what might happen. Instead, tell me you're praying for me. Those are the most encouraging words EVER!

My friend was so sick during chemo.

See above! 

Are you okay?

This is actually a question that irritated my kids. No, they're not okay. Their mom has cancer, has no hair, and is getting chemo. They don't even understand what is happening and have no idea how/when it's going to end. Instead, tell them you're praying for them and for their mom. Like stated above, those are the most encouraging words EVER! 

One thing that was an encouragement for me and my family was the Barnabas box my friends and co-workers put together for me. Read about how my kids were blessed by it HERE. 

Did you hear that asparagus (or whatever latest fad) is supposed to cure cancer?

My reply back to that would be (in my head, of course): And have you had cancer that was healed just from eating asparagus? I'm not against alternative treatments, but a newly diagnosed cancer patient is so overwhelmed that anything not already tried and true is too scary. Yes, asparagus is scarier than chemo! At least chemo has success stories - REAL success stories.

I have to be able to trust my team of doctors. Encourage me as I follow my treatment plan.

Unsolicited hair advice.

Until you've gone through losing your hair, wearing headbands, scarves, or wigs, and experienced the awkward growing out stage, don't give hair advice. For me, taking the step to quit wearing my wig was terrifying. So, whatever stage of hair I'm at, just tell me it looks good - HA!

And maybe the most annoying thing to say to a cancer patient is...


I care about what's going on with other people, but when their hang nail is the hot topic of the day while I'm immunosuppressed, eating Gas-X like candy, and using Germ-X like lotion, it's a bit extremely annoying. And when someone is complaining about a bad hair day when I have no hair...

Just be considerate. Although I may not complain or let you know every little thing I'm going through, it doesn't always mean everything is going great. Let's help each other keep things in perspective.

I think that pretty much covers my "What Not to Say..." list. Just like in any situation, be considerate and encouraging. Sometimes just thinking before speaking will make all the difference. If you don't know what to say, ask a question. It shows you're interested and lets the cancer patient lead the conversation.

And if you're afraid you might say the wrong thing...which is always forgivable... you can write a note that simply says (because sometimes less is more):

Thinking about you! 

When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need - words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.
 ~ Ephesians 4:29 (New Century Version)


Friday, May 16, 2014

in the GAP

Since cancer is now a personal reality for me, I am drawn to others in similar circumstances. Sometimes I really struggle with what I should do to help... especially my friends who are on their own cancer journey. Almost a year after my diagnosis, a 16 year old friend was diagnosed with an inoperable type of brain cancer. And this isn't her first fight with cancer. I feel so helpless, but I know the most important thing I can do for Amber is pray. 

I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
- Ezekiel 22:30

I may be totally off in my interpretation of this verse, but when I read it, it hit me that I have a wonderful opportunity to stand in the gap for others. I am so appreciative of those who have prayed for me during my cancer journey, and it's my honor to pray for others dealing with the dreaded "C". 

Over the next few months I began thinking about what I could/should be doing with my cancer experience, my desire to be an encouragement to other cancer patients, and my heart for God. One of my daughters painted this canvas for my birthday. She suggested I should do something that combines my card-making hobby with my desire to stand in the gap for others.

After some google searches, I discovered there are several ministries called "stand in the gap" or "standing in the gap" - I didn't want to use the same name. So I shortened it to in the gap... and then it hit me that the G-A-P could stand for God's Amazing Peace! I actually pray that for people - that they will be filled with God's amazing peace!!! It's settled. I'm making an organized effort to pray for and send cards to those going through tough times. I'm not exactly sure how it will all play out yet, but I'm at least starting it. My amazing husband created a Facebook cover photo and profile picture with the official name - in the GAP!

I'd love for you to check out the Facebook page here, "like" it, and share it. If you know someone going through a tough time, let me know through the contact me information at the top of my blog or a private message through Facebook. I'll post the prayer request on the Facebook page (with permission), send a card, and pray!

Let's make a community of prayer and encouragement so others can experience God's Amazing Peace!!!

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
~ Psalm 29:11

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Angela's Insight

One thing about cancer is that it creates an instant bond between cancer patients. An even stronger bond happens when people share the same type of cancer. I've been blessed by two non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivors that I have met through Facebook. We're close in age (which is relatively young for NHL), one had Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, one had Follicular Lymphoma, and I had both. Friends for life!

One of these new friends posted six statements about cancer patients on her Facebook that are really, really good! Some may be obvious, but a couple of them struck me as "Whoa! That's exactly how I feel... but have never verbalized it."

Thank you, Angela Sposato, for your insight!

A person who has had cancer never wants to be forgotten.
Maybe that's why I wear a lime green bracelet, 
a cancer ribbon necklace, 
and paint the tips of one nail on each hand lime green. 

A person who has had cancer is changed forever... their new kind of life started the day of diagnosis. 
A cancer diagnosis causes 
a whole new outlook on life... 
and death... 

If a person is lucky to reach remission, they will now count in months, and hopefully years, they can stay there. 
I am at 9 months. 

We walk around with Post Traumatic Stress, because we were literally in battle.
One of my triggers is hearing of a friend 
who has been diagnosed. 
It takes me right back to my own diagnosis. 

The ones who survive live with "survivor guilt" and wonder why we were spared.
I don't talk about this, but it's there. 
Why is my journey somewhat easy 
(all things considered) 
while others go through hell??? 

We are grateful to our researchers, nurses, and oncologists who gave us a SECOND chance at life...but we beg for a CURE.
Although I would love for a cure 
to be discovered in my lifetime, 
I rest in the fact that heaven 
will be my ultimate healing. 

And to add a statement of my own that may or may not apply to all cancer patients...

Don't be afraid to ask me questions and talk about my experience. I want to share. I want to help. I want to be a blessing to others. And I want to glorify God!