Reality: Four out of ten American adults will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. Right now, over 15 million people in the U.S. are living with cancer. Every year an estimated 1.7 million more people receive a cancer diagnosis. In a church congregation of 200 people, approximately eight members are living with cancer and two more will be diagnosed with the disease every year.
Cancer Patients Have Unique Needs
Cancer ‘ministers’ learn what to say and what not to say to people who have been diagnosed with cancer…
Don’t discount their grief. “I hear a lot of patients tell me that they don’t like it when people tell them, ‘Oh, it’s just hair,’ or ‘That surgery is no big deal because you’re going to live through this.’ A lot of times when people lose body parts, whether it’s their hair, bladder, breast or kidney, they do grieve that. So I think we have to make sure we hear their hearts. It’s not just a body part or hair, it’s a part of them.”
- Avoid telling people how to feel or think.“When someone’s going through a cancer journey,” explained Reverend Long, “their feelings are just their feelings. Don’t say, ‘You shouldn’t feel that way’ or ‘You shouldn’t think that way’ “because when people are told that, they feel minimized as if they don’t matter.
- Have compassion, not sympathy. Sympathy can imply distance and authority, leading to the patient feeling lonely and isolated. “Sometimes when people say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ it’s almost as if they’re over there, and you’re right here. If you say, ‘Listen, I’m with you and we’re going to get through this together and whatever you need I’m here for you,’ that’s very different than saying, ‘I’m sorry for you.'”
- Don’t cast doubt on their treatment plan. “Sometimes we tell people, ‘Oh you just need to pray. Don’t take that chemo,’ or ‘Don’t take that radiation.’ Don’t be critical of someone’s treatment plan. God is in all of it,” said Reverend Long, “Sometimes I meet people who have great faith, but they begin to lose hope.”
- Don’t talk to a cancer patient about another cancer patient who died. “It’s important that we don’t spread negativity,” she said, adding, “That’s one thing about going through a cancer journey, you have to stay positive.” Read more: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/health/2018/september/top-5-things-to-know-if-youre-trying-to-comfort-a-cancer-patient
VERSE: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” Psalm 150
QUOTE: “A person who loves his job, will never work a day in his life.”
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