"But she said for those who survive this disease,
it is more than just pink shirts and raising money.
She said those going through this fight
need someone to listen.
Not fan fare,
but friendship or love that is undying."
- ~Pamela Price
I am reading the current edition of Bella which is, of course, dedicated to breast cancer since it is breast cancer awareness month. I have to admit, I was a little bitter that the entire edition is dedicated to breast cancer since I had emailed this same magazine requesting them to do something for melanoma back in May. In their defense, they did publish my article, but that is all....Anyway, I am a faithful reader so I thought I would check out the articles. The second article that I read actually reminded me that regardless of the type, cancer patients all go through the same emotions. The shock, the fear, the anger, and even the acceptance that we do have cancer, and when it really comes down to it, cancer is something we have no control over.
This article, written by Pamela Price, discusses how many of us have numerous t-shirts that we have received after attending a fundraising event. Price writes, "These days there are t-shirts, socks, vests, hair accessories, etc. that show you support one or many causes. Yet, what does all that really mean?" Good question, Pamela. Think about your latest Facebook feed. So many women started posting "I am ___ weeks and craving __." This was supposed to promote breast cancer awareness. All it did was cause people to think you were pregnant and craving weird foods. Will that cause women to go get their yearly exams? Will it cause women to feel their boobies? Will attending a karaoke event for skin cancer cause people to go to a dermatologist? Probably not.
Yes, all cancers need fundraisers, not only for the research that is still needed, but families going through a cancer diagnosis need the financial support sometimes. One thing people do not realize is that cancer is expensive. Some of us, like myself, are lucky enough to have great insurance plans. Others have been kicked off of insurance policies due to being too high risk. Between the traveling, the medical expenses, and the possibility of losing your job, cancer is expensive. Fundraising is crucial.
What is as important as the financial help you can provide to a cancer warrior/cancer research? The support you give unselfishly to the cancer warrior. In her article, Price discusses a member of her church who had decided to be at peace with the fact that she was losing her battle with breast cancer. Price remembers her friend explaining that what cancer survivors need is someone to listen to them. She says, "...For those who survive this disease, it is more than just pink shirts and raising money. She said those going through this fight need someone to listen. Not fan fare or whoopla, but friendship or love that is undying." This hit home for me. As much as I appreciate and needed the financial and physical support from those who have helped me, I would have never been able to even pretend to cope with a cancer diagnosis without the emotional support that I have received. Some people probably think I have used my cancer to bring attention to myself. Some might say I beg for attention. I share my experience for 3 reasons: my story my save someone else, my story may help another person going through a similar experience, and my sharing my story has been extremely therapeutic. Having someone read the words that I can write but can't always say has allowed me to cope with the craziness that is now my life.
People do not like acknowledging the fact that one day they will die. Instead, they tell you that things will be OK. They remind you that you will get through this. I am guilty of telling others these same comments as well. You have a tumor on your brain? I am going to tell you that you are going to be fine. Why do I do that? Well, I don't know what else to say. How do you look at someone you have grown to know and love and say, "Well, shit. This may just kill you after all." You don't! You tell them that they are going to receive excellent care. You build up their confidence as best as you can because they probably have very little confidence of their own. You encourage them. On the other side, you have to respect that things are the opposite of fine, they are the opposite of OK, and that shit is really going to get tough. You listen to their fears no matter how scared those fears make you. You do it because that is what they need: They need to be heard.
Next time you are surrounded by someone going through a hard time, be patient with them. Let them know that it is OK not to be strong all the time. Let them feel safe to let their guard down. I can promise you that support will mean more to them than the t-shirt you wear in their honor.
(But don't stop supporting causes that are important to you. Without money, there is no research. Without research, well, you knooooow.....)
(All pictures found on Pinterest.)