Loving women in our churches and communities that are fighting and surviving cancer can be hard.
We don’t always know what to do or what to say.
We want to be helpful and encouraging, but we’re unsure of what, when, or how to do so.
Today I’ve asked a friend to share some encouragement “do’s and don’t’s” .
Just over a year ago my friend underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. She’s spent the last year recovering. She would tell you it hasn’t been an easy year. Thankfully she’s had many friends, family, and church members that came along side her family and offered help.
I am grateful for the time she’s taken to help us understand how we can encourage those who are fighting and surviving cancer.
How To Encourage Those Who Are Fighting and Surviving Cancer
Do: Send her an encouraging card or a package of “girlie” things to brighten her day. It will cheer her heart for a lifetime.
Do: Arrange to have her house cleaned by someone she can trust especially after surgery and during cancer treatments that limit her ability to clean.
Do: Arrange for meals to be taken to her and her immediate family members after surgery. Remember to ask what foods are allowed, favored, or ruled out due to treatment. Freezer meals are great! Restaurant gift cards come in handy for unpredictable days.
Do: Volunteer to drive her to appointments, to lunch or to the store if she cannot drive. Be specific about the time you are available. Remember her spouse might be overwhelmed and in need of assistance too. Ask him how you can help.
Do: Visit with her during an agreed upon time and do not stay passed the agreed upon time. She might not tell you that she is exhausted. Focus on what she wants to discuss and leave your troubles at the door. Read the Word and pray with her before you leave.
Now that we know what to do – let’s make sure we don’t do these things!
Do Not: Do not drop by her house unannounced unless you are family or “like family.” If you are “like family” then let yourself in so she does not have to greet you at the door if she is resting, too weak or sick.
Do Not: Do not touch her or hug her without her consent. Let her initiate physical contact when she is ready. Soreness from surgery and a weakened immune system might keep her from attending church if she fears germs or being crushed by a well-meaning but hurtful hug.
Do Not: Do not ask her about her inward or outward being in such a way as to cause her to think negatively about her transitioning spirit, mind or body. She might question things such as her beauty, self-esteem, intelligence or her intimate relationship with her husband. Build her up in the faith by the Holy Spirit.
Example: “If you have cancer, why do you have hair?” “Have you had your last reconstruction surgery? I thought your reconstructed breast(s) would be larger.” “I know you are sad but you ought to be happy. At least you did not die.” “You will bounce back eventually. Where is your faith?” “Your memory is slipping! Are you losing it?
Do Not: Never, Ever, Ever, tell her ALL about your friend’s sister’s second cousin who had a next door neighbor who fought cancer for three years before she tragically died in excruciating pain from cancer that returned after two rounds of debilitating chemotherapy and multiple surgeries!!! She will not be encouraged by your tragic stories that remind her of an uncertain future.
Do Not: Do not ignore her or avoid her simply because you are uncomfortable with how you feel when she is around. Your silent, caring smile will let her know that you care. If you can speak, allow the Holy Spirit to give you simple words of love to encourage her.
If God’s directed you to do more…
Above and Beyond
- Arrange for several mothers to take turns driving the children to school and picking them back up Monday through Friday.
- Arrange for an adult or teenager to help the kids with homework when needed.
- Stay overnight with single women who have no family nearby to help after surgery or chemotherapy treatments.
- Create a network of prayer warriors who will daily seek God on her behalf.
May God bless your efforts as you seek to love and encourage those fighting and surviving cancer.
Your turn to share: What other suggestions would you have for encouraging those fighting and surviving cancer?
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