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How Should I Respond When a Newly Diagnosed Person Reaches Out?

Survivors who share their voices through blog posts have a big responsibility. Learn how to manage it here.
PUBLISHED October 11, 2018
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about breast cancer. It’s not that I try to keep it in the forefront of my mind, but it’s always there. Though it’s been almost four and a half years since my initial diagnosis, it’s still a large part of my life. Cancer isn’t something that’s easily forgotten.

There are days when it’s the furthest thing from my mind and then, there are other days, especially during the month of October, where it’s in my face – literally. Even though I’d much rather forget about breast cancer, there are days I’m thankful I had it. Those days are days like today when I’m contacted by a complete stranger asking for information.

Writing about cancer not only helps me, but it also helps others. As I share my story, others can relate. It’s a huge responsibility for those of us who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It’s important that we tell our stories.

Since I’ve been blogging for CURE, people from all over the world have taken the initiative to make contact. They usually make contact through social media platforms or via email. Most of them have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer and have found something in one of my posts that resonated with their spirit. It’s been my great joy to spend time sharing information, helpful tips, or a listening ear and that’s because, I too, remember those fearful first days after diagnosis.

Humans were created for community; however, a diagnosis of breast cancer can make one feel isolated and alone. Fear can be overwhelming if not disarmed by truth. One of the best ways to dispel fear is to give true-life experiences.

When a newly diagnosed person reaches out for help, the seasoned survivor must respond. It’s not only our duty, it’s an honor.

The newly diagnosed usually makes contact because they desire firsthand information from someone who’s already traveled the breast cancer road. They want to feel assured we’ll take time to share information truthfully and honestly. They need someone to come alongside and help them feel less afraid.

Here are some words of wisdom I’d like to share, things I’ve learned through my own cancer experience of sharing:

When you take time to share your own experience with cancer, know that it will impact the lives of others whether you intend for it to or not.

Be gentle. It takes guts for a newly diagnosed to reach out to a complete stranger.

Be careful with your words. It’s important to be open and answer the questions of the newly diagnosed, but don’t overwhelm them with too much information too fast. Let them take the lead. Allow them the chance to ask the questions they need to ask.

Most of all, listen. Sometimes you’ll hear between the lines. Often, the most important things aren’t spoken.

If we make time to grasp the hand of the frightened, newly diagnosed person, we not only communicate comradery, we voice our understanding.

The various blogs offered by CURE magazine fall under the heading, “Voices.” I think that’s a very fitting name. Each of us have a voice and CURE allows us a huge platform in which to share.

If you’re a blogger for CURE, like me, remember to blog responsibly. You never know who is reading your post or how it will impact their lives, and don’t be afraid to shoulder the responsibility of helping the newly diagnosed. The reward is great.


 

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