Good thoughts on a difficult subject. I've also been treated for prostate cancer, and my wife died of cancer. I researched like crazy on behalf of my wife and I don't know for sure how she felt about it. I hope it may have made her feel someone was really fighting for her, because never did we feel a doctor was really championing her case, not that we blame them. Top doctors have so many hundred of patients that treatment regimens become almost cookbook. Doctors do not for example typically promote clinical trials or keep up on them even - that is left mostly up to the patients themselves. For that reasons I welcomed any ideas or research people sent me -- even crazy diet stuff I would research, especially if it couldn't hurt. I always felt inadequate trying to keep up with new research by myself and was amazed that I often missed something that someone would send me from a news article. However, it seems to be true that it is easier to do research as a caregiver than for one's self. It is scary reading something about your own diagnosis. So probably I wouldn't want my friends constantly sending me stuff about prostate cancer, although I would appreciate hearing about a new type of treatment or clinical trial opening up.
Even with my own personal relationship with cancer, I still do not know what to say to a person with cancer, or what to say to a person who's loved one died. It seems to vary by person and relationship. But I think I am seeing that the safest approach is the hug / listen / be there approach and not the data-oriented reassurance that I'm tempted to blurt out. At least that is a good way to start, and you can then take cues from the person as time goes on, I guess.
I agree with the comment above by Sb4. The article's title is offensive. Etiquette for the caregiver. As a long time cancer patient still getting treatment, I am most grateful for any one willing to be supportive, caregiver or friend. Most of the comments listed in these article that tell you what not to say are the ones I appreciate the most. I received many excellent suggestions to see certain experts at cancer institutes, it made me feel like I had a team behind me.
Mr Ronald Cooper has exacting standards and he demands strict adherence to his criteria most of which are all landmines for the poor unsuspecting caregiver. After 4 years of remission, should I make that mile marker, I'd be grateful for any well intentioned words or behavior. To demand the patients' caregivers be in lock step with soothing murmurs diminishes them.
Always assume the highest intention of people who approach you. Gently remove yourself from those who don't leave you in a better place. Most people are fearful of cancer and most people are kind. Why tell them to zip up? Just take the high road, thank them and move on. Never be bitter.
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