What I Have Learned Helping Friends Through Health Scares


Finding the balance between offering support and guidance while at the same time not overwhelming people going through health scares isn’t easy, writes a cancer survivor. He notes that although it may take some practice to get right, it is an important skill for cancer thrivers to get down.

I’ve had to catch myself twice recently. And by catch myself, I mean reflect in disappointment knowing I could’ve been better.

Two very important people in my life recently confided with me about their own health scares. And as soon as they shared the news, it brought back all the familiar fears and the heightened emotions. I began to lose control.

It’s much easier writing to the general cancer fighting community than supporting a living, breathing person — especially one you know and love. All I wanted to do was download everything I’ve learned straight to their brain like Neo in “The Matrix”. I’ve gotten burned so many times and the thought of them facing the same kind of misery was almost too much for my nerves to handle.

So, what was my first instinct? To nudge them along the same route I’ve taken. Optimizing all healing factors by every means possible. Giving themselves the best possible chance of success. Finding an edge.

Here’s what I learned

Other people have different processes and different comfort levels as well. My lifestyle overhaul didn’t take place overnight — not even close! How could I possibly expect that of someone else?

Also, just because my approach helps me doesn’t mean other paths are less effective. It doesn’t mean these people are taking the situation less seriously either. One friend didn’t want to call more attention until they had the facts. Of course, here I was expecting the worst and preparing for every possible nightmare. But they wanted to keep it at a yellow alert instead of working themselves up to a CODE RED freak out. And thankfully it looks like everything should (hopefully) be OK. They ended up saving themselves from a lot of unnecessary stress leading up to the scans. Honestly, it was a great teaching moment for me.

Finding the balance between offering support and guidance — especially when you’re worried and believe you have serious value to share — while at the same time, not overwhelming the person, isn’t easy. And it may take some practice to get right, but this is an important skill for cancer thrivers to get down. Otherwise, we’ll just be wasting all the valuable knowledge, lessons and first-hand experiences we can share with those who need it most.

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