Finding the right words - Catholic Courier

Finding the right words

For the Catholic Courier’s September issue, I wrote an article about how to respond when a loved one tells you he or she has cancer. It’s a topic that hits close to home for me. Three of my family members currently are battling cancer, and two of them were just diagnosed this past spring.

I can’t say how each of these brave women felt when she received her diagnosis. I don’t think anyone on the outside can ever really know how that feels. All I do know is how I felt, and I felt sad, scared, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to act or what to say. I’m assuming many people have similar feelings when they learn their loved ones have cancer.

It was a strange position to be in, because I was obviously close to these women and we often spoke candidly. Suddenly, however, I didn’t know what to say. Questions bounced around in my head like fireflies trapped in a jar.

Should I mention the cancer? Should I pretend it doesn’t exist, so as not to upset her or remind her? Does that make me look cold and uncaring?

Should I bring over a meal? I’m not that great a cook. Will that make her feel worse? Should I ask her what I can do? But then does that give her the burden of coming up with and assigning a task?

I had no answers, so I did what many of us do: I turned to Google. There I found many contradictory answers. That’s when I decided to write this article, so I could talk to some experts, get some concrete answers and share them with all the other concerned people out there who felt like I did.

I hope it helps you, like it helped me.


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