Unseen and Unheard, Part III

If you didn’t have a chance to read my first two installments in this series, you can read Part I here and Part II here. I wasn’t planning to include a third installment, but I got so many responses publicly and privately, that I thought I would include some additional items. One thing I love about the #MBC Community is how much we lift each other up and collaborate together.

A friend from Twitter, Mindy, sent me this list …

I’m a cancer patient and I’d like to share some insights. Not all of these are “stocking the shelves” related, but I can tell many of you are eager to help others! 

+++PLEASE NOTE+++ I am not asking for suggestions for cancer treatment. 😊

For the sake of brevity, I’m using the word “patient” to mean the person with cancer.  I know there are many who will cringe at the use of the word and we are more than a patient. Please don’t come at me about it. I’m just trying to offer some positive things (and a couple caveats) that have been meaningful to me. 

* first and foremost, be a good listener, not a good talker. 😊

* ask the patient and/or family if they need you to pick up something for them from Costco or the grocery store, whenever you’re going. 

* sometimes the small things are overwhelming, like needing a gallon of milk and not having the energy to go to the store.a

* go visit the patient if he/she is up to visitors. Allow the caregiver time away, even for an hour. (Please be careful/safe with health guidelines and don’t visit if you could be ill with anything communicable).

* bringing in meals is awesome IF the patient can eat what’s offered (always check). Some treatments change how things taste.

*Provide enough food for the family. (A friend once brought me food but nothing for my husband and daughter. That added to my stress). 

* offer concrete help; see if you can sweep the floors, run the dishwasher, throw clothes in the washer, and so on. Don’t reorganize the kitchen or pantry, unless that help is requested. 😁

* offer to help get them their staple foods, if they don’t have them. I don’t mean that you should buy them! Ask if they need help getting some items and ask their budget. Having them pay you in advance is ideal so their purchases don’t impact your own budget.

* having a few meals in the freezer was a stress reliever for me. Quick fix meals were helpful as well. There are some great recipes already posted here on SOS, like the soup mixes.

* consider NOT asking how they’re doing. You could alternatively ask, “Is today a good day for you?” And if it’s not a good day, ask, “what can I do to make it better?” Or offer, “I hope tomorrow is a better day.” Please don’t say, “If you need anything, call….” as you walk out the door. It might make you feel better but it doesn’t really help. 

* please please please do NOT offer advice for treatment UNLESS it is requested. The patient and family should never have to justify their choices to anyone. Navigating cancer and treatment is hard enough. People will come out of the woodwork to say, “Have you tried…” [fill in the blank]. Now IF they ask for advice, then that’s different. 

* Remember, the patient and his/her family is on the road to becoming an expert in their own  bodies and their own cancer. Treatment is challenging physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. …. 

*Be loving and kind, even when (maybe, especially when) you disagree with their choices.”

Another Twitter friend, Beth, shared this comment:

I agree 100% with this comment since the cognitive affects of chemo and the ongoing medication means that we often struggle with word retrieval. While finishing each other’s sentences can be a hallmark of a close relationship, doing so in this context isn’t a positive thing.

As with so many of the topics I’ve explored on this blog, this concept seems to have hit a bit of a nerve and that makes me think that there are a lot of hurting people out there, people who feel unseen and unheard. I hope with some of my posts and musings, each of you may find an opportunity to show those around you that you see and hear them.

10 thoughts on “Unseen and Unheard, Part III

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