• 66°

Coping with cancer

The mother of a childhood friend of mine passed away this weekend after a long and painful bout with cancer.
Her death got me thinking about how family and friends of those that are ill cope.
My first experience with cancer was when my 23-year-old uncle passed away from colon cancer. I was about 13-years-old. The cancer was so advanced when doctors discovered it that he died six months after his diagnosis.
I remember feeling confused and scared as I visited him in the hospital and later on as I watched my father cry for the first time when we lost him.
There is no way healthy individuals can begin to understand what a sick person may be going through, but there are ways that we can help them and ourselves cope with the situation.
There are many supportive options on cancer.net including keeping lines of communication open, being respectful, helping a sick person stay involved, being honest about your feelings but don’t overburden, providing active support and being a constant in a changing world.
When my uncle died, I had no knowledge of cancer or how to deal with death.
Now that I am older, I have witnessed more family and friends struggle with this disease and other diseases.
It doesn’t get easier, but one of the rules I practice is treating sick people like they aren’t. To me, focusing on the illness and how sick they are does not help create a healthy attitude.
Life is about living, not dying. Cherish the time with your loved ones, make every day special, take that long overdue vacation to Europe and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about cancer coping techniques at www.cancer.net.