It’s a situation I wish none of us had to face, but it’s more or less inevitable that all of us do.
When someone you care about is diagnosed with a serious illness, how do you talk to them? What do you say? How do you keep their spirits up, and yours, in the face of something as terrible as cancer?
I’ve been there. I was that guy sitting next to you when you were sick, with no idea what to say. And now I’m that guy you’re sitting next to, as you’re trying to figure it out.
So, with me as an example, I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far…
First, it’s okay to talk about the disease. I’m dealing with this thing – it’s a fact you really can’t avoid. So it’s okay to ask how I’m feeling, physically or mentally or emotionally. If I’m hurting, it’s okay to talk about the nausea or vomiting or whatever symptoms I’m going through. You’re invested in my well being, so share it.
Second, it’s okay to not talk about the disease. As much as I know I can’t truly avoid it, sometimes I’d like to pretend I can. And you’ll figure out pretty quickly when those times are. So, talk about what’s going on in your life. Talk about your work. Talk about your family. Talk about that show you’re in. Talk about books you’ve read. Talk about that show on Netflix you really like. Give me things to write. Give me grief about my klutziness (and if you’ve known me long enough, you know I’ll give you a lot of material). Play cards with me. You can even gripe about the weather (and it’s 20 degrees as I’m writing this, which is reason enough to gripe in San Antonio). Life isn’t normal for me, so I appreciate the effort to carry on like it is.
And that’s the most important thing: treat me like the guy I used to be. I know my life has changed. I have cancer. But I don’t want to feel like I’m just That Guy With Cancer now. I want to be Lee. I miss being Lee. So when you call, when you text or FB me, when you stop by, just remember the way you used to talk to me before I was diagnosed, and keep doing that.
For anyone who’s asked if there’s anything I need… I think I need that the most.
Thanks as always for following along. Love you all…