Since my cancer diagnosis, I have read countless articles and lists covering things one should say or not say to someone with cancer. There is also plenty of advice out there addressing what you should or should not do.
Some of these things I agree with and some I do not.
What ever happened to good old common sense?
It’s not like those of us who have or had cancer want everyone else tip-toeing around being afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. We really aren’t all that sensitive. We are still the same people we were before cancer came calling.
But then again…
I’ve also read articles and lists written by people who have or had cancer recounting some of the thoughtless, insensitive and even cruel remarks that have been directed at them. I have heard a couple of gems myself, but that’s another post.
Sometimes it does make one wonder…
Most people want to offer comfort and support to those they care about who’ve been
punched touched by cancer. Most people want to say and do something meaningful and helpful.
It’s also true that many people do feel at least a little uncomfortable (understandably so) figuring out that balance between saying/asking enough and saying/asking too much. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do or what not do.
Often this uncertainty results in avoiding the person with cancer altogether and that’s a shame.
Most people could use a little friendly advice. Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know by Lori Hope is just that, a little friendly advice. In fact, I would say it’s a must read.
Help Me Live is the perfect resource for those who are feeling unsure of what to say or do. Lori shares personal stories of her own, as well as stories from others, that illustrate some common faux pas. She also shares heartwarming stories exemplifying tender acts of love, caring and compassion. She does both with a blend of honesty, wit and plenty of humor.
Lori was diagnosed herself with lung cancer in 2002. She understands what receiving a cancer diagnosis feels like and had this to say about her own diagnosis in chapter 13, “I Am Still Me; Treat Me Kindly, Not Differently.”
“When I heard, ‘You have cancer,’ everything changed in a heartbeat…I could no longer think of myself as a writer, producer, consultant, mother or wife. Lori Hope, Cancer Gal: that was me…I could no longer look in the mirror and even imagine the woman I had been before. But even though I could neither see nor be the old me, I did not want to be treated differently.”
When her initial treatment ended, Lori took on the mission of interviewing survivors of diverse ages, backgrounds and diagnoses. She also interviewed experts in psychology, social work and communication, as well as those in the field of conventional medicine. She developed a survey for survivors asking them what they most wanted others to know. The results of that survey ultimately became the first edition of Help Me Live in 2005.
Help Me Live – 20 things people with cancer want you to know is an updated compilation of those survey results (I took the survey myself) together with information garnered from interviews of people living with cancer, medical professionals, care givers and many others as well. Numerous personal stories are woven throughout Lori’s book reminding us that cancer is indeed a very personally unique experience for each patient deeply impacting the life of not only the cancer patient, but also the lives of all who care about them.
Part I of Help Me Live is divided into twenty-one chapters, each one addressing one of the topics taken directly from the survivor survey. Not surprisingly, one of my favorites is chapter 8, “I Need to Feel Hope, But Telling Me to Think Positively Can Make Me Feel Worse.”
Amen to that!
Two more of my favorites are chapter 1, “It’s Okay to Say or Do the ‘Wrong’ Thing” and chapter 17, “I Don’t Know Why I Got Cancer, and Hearing Your Theory May Add Grave Insult to Injury.”
Part II is called, “A Quick Guide to Cancerquette.” It contains most of the survivor survey, excerpts from other books and articles, opinions and advice from various individuals and organizations and more. I particularly like chapter 31, “How to Listen.” Part II ends with a chapter for survivors on coping and keeping hope alive while living with cancer’s uncertainty.
Help Me Live is for anyone who has been touched by cancer and unfortunately, that is most of us. Help Me Live will help anyone communicate more lovingly and effectively about cancer related issues. It will give the reader a better understanding of what a person with cancer is going through and help them to respond or reach out more compassionately to that person.
Help Me Live is for any survivor of cancer as well because it validates the individuality of each person’s cancer experience, and with validation comes empowerment.
Perhaps the most important message of all the reader can take from Help Me Live is this – just be there and never underestimate the power of love, compassion, forgiveness and of course, hope.
That’s a pretty good message for all of us don’t you think?
If you would like to win a free copy of Help Me Live – 20 things people with cancer want you to know, simply leave a comment below by Tuesday, June 12. To double your chances, leave a comment on my Facebook page as well.The winner will be announced shortly there after.
Remember you can win the book for yourself or win it to give away, so be sure to enter my giveaway!
About the author:
Lori Hope is a journalist, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and motivational speaker. She works tirelessly as an advocate for all who are facing the challenges of living with cancer of any kind. She has served on the board of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, has volunteered her time for The Lung Cancer Alliance and the National Lung Cancer Partnership and has spoken numerous times before the American Cancer Society, as well as many other groups. Lori has also appeared on the Today Show.
Unfortunately, Lori’s lung cancer recurred in 2011 and she was recently diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Despite her own personal health challenges, Lori continues to work diligently on behalf of others offering guidance, strength and hope to all those living with cancer, as well as to those who care about them. I’m proud to call Lori my friend.
Lori has a website at lorihope.com where you can learn more. Please check it out.
Have you read Lori’s book?
Have you ever felt uncertain about what you should say to someone with a serious illness?
What piece of advice would you give to anyone who is unsure about what to say to someone with cancer?
What was something someone did for you during a time of need that you really appreciated?