You meet a stranger and for some reason in that moment you mention you are cancer survivor and find out they’re also a survior or presently going thru treatment. Cancer survivors and patients have a way of running into each other. Focus on conveying hope in these moments. Be careful not to judge their treatment options or push them with your ideas of post-treatment choices. If they are doing something that is different than your approach-let it be-be grateful that you found each other.
Let them talk about their experience. You can get so excited about meeting another cancer person that you want to talk and talk! They want to be heard and identify with you as much you do with them! If they are in the middle of treatment offer them all the encouragement you can give them. If they inquire if you got sick and you did, I would say, “yes, but you know people who didn’t, that every one has a different experience with chemo or radiation.” Don’t put in their head they are going to get sick.
Ask them questions. Remember there are questions as cancer survivor that you would only know to ask. And there are answers you can give that only a cancer survivor can offer.
Remember to keep listening, feeling their heart. There is unspoken language between cancer people. The most powerful communication is always non-verbal. At the end of your talk, if it feels right, give them a hug. And if it feels appropriate give them some pamphlet or phone number on a referral to other modalities. Give them your email in case they need any support. Email is always a good option; it’s easier to contact someone this way.
When its time to say goodbye to another cancer survivor sometimes I hear myself saying, “We made it, brother-We made it, sister!” And then I think that right, I did! If they are in treatment, I say “When I get up in the mountains on my next hike, I will say a big prayer for you.” Then without intending it, I find myself holding their eyes with mine for a long moment. I think in that split second, I am conveying to them, “You can do it. Don’t give up. Be tough. You’re not alone. I understand. I understand.”
God is great. A Ho