Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When you must comfort those comforting you


…Diane Mapes, writing on MSNBC.com, talks about women with breast cancer who have to spend a lot of time calming down those around them.

…Crying, falling silent, fear, awkwardness—this goes both ways.

…A San Francisco State study of 164 women showed that breast cancer patients often became caretakers, instead of being taken care of. “Women are emotional managers,” is how one person put it.

…One woman reported her husband was much more freaked out than she was.

…The Wall Street Journal also had a piece recently on how in certain cultures, the Chinese for one, having cancer was shameful. One woman never even told her husband and said her hair was falling out because of a new hair product.

…Sometimes, of course, this crisis can lead to strengthened bonds with family and friends—or even strangers, who may turn up to help.

…Patients need to receive help and do it gracefully if they can—and only give out as much help as they are able.

…Some tips: Tell people as best you can, but don’t worry too much about not upsetting them (exception: children).

….You don’t have to be strong and positive if you don’t feel it.

…Update people in a phone message or as they come—your choice.

…Some people—most people—don’t know what to say, so be tolerant of how they handle it.

…In HA’s opinion, letting the patient talk is best—don’t try to fix it. A lot of people have fixer in them, though.

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