Ask someone who has been through a major illness how they are doing and you’ll get a variety of answers. Some people with tell you EVERYTHING! Others will share a few pertinent details and still others will tell you nothing at all. One thing I have learned is that if people need to talk about their pain and the experience of their disease, then let them. For some people, sharing their hurts and problems seems to help them let go of the negative energy they carry around as a result of their sickness. For those who don’t want to talk, simply being there to help them through a difficult day can be enough.
Another thing I have learned is that you should never compare pain. Just because someone doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real. Everyone deals with pain differently. On the flip side of that, having someone share all the details of their treatment plan plus side effects doesn’t mean their pain is any worse than the one who doesn’t talk. Each one deals with the adversity of the disease in a different way. What may seem like a minor issue to you is very real to the person who is experiencing it. In essence what they are trying to say is, “It’s real, it hurts and I’m scared.”
Medical diagnosis, staging or degrees of disease are irrelevant. Pain however, is not irrelevant. Cancer survivors have to learn to accept their degree of pain and find their own way to deal with it. So, as a friend or even a fellow cancer survivor, don’t judge or compare pain. Just listen and love.
Blessings, Cindy J