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How Can I Understand?

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2004

Hello everyone. I have been reading some of your posts, and I think this is such a great website. I am so happy for all of you who are cancer survivors, and to those of you who still have cancer... keep fighting! I also wanted to say that for those of you having dating trouble because of your new outlook on life, you will find the person who is right for you, who really appreciates who you are. Anyway, I am one of the people who can not possibly understand what you have all gone through because I have not had cancer, but I would like some help in trying. My cousin is 21, just a year younger than me, and has had a cancerous tumor removed from her neck. She will be having another tumor removed from her tongue as well as all of the lymph nodes from her jaw to her collar bone. She will then have radiation treatment. If possible, I would like your help in telling me some of the stories of support you received during your cancers that really helped you through it. The things that I think as a person who has not actually had cancer are that if I was in her situation, I would be very scared, and I would become much more appreciative of every moment in my life. Right now everyone in the family feels pretty helpless and just wants to send their love and support, which is probably the most important and helpful thing we can all do. We all of course think that it is so unfair for people to get cancer, especially so young, but thinking these things does not help my cousin get better. Is there anything else that I, or others in my family can do to make her feel better or take her mind off being sick without just getting in the way? What sorts of things did you do during your treatments and recovery? Did you like to read books or try to go out places? I think with only radiation therapy and no chemotherapy, she shouldn't be feeling too sick, but again I have never experienced this. Is there something in particular that someone did for you of gave to you that really encouraged you to fight your cancer and beat it? Thanks for any help you can give. I am sure that everyone's cases are very different, but the more I can learn from people who have actually gone through this, the better I can start to understand how to be supportive without really knowing what it's like. I really appreciate your time and help. - Steph

Posts: 47
Joined: Jun 2004

Hey Steph,

I can tell you love your cousin very much. For me personally I liked to listen to ocean sounds after chemotherapy and have everything neat and clean. I think when you have cancer you just feel so out of control so it is important to control the things you can. I also hated when people gave me platitudes such as "things will be ok, or think of how much worse it could be" Listening I think helps the most. Also lots of cards and care packages always cheered me up. Also, something is a big issue to her then let her feel anyway she wants. I remember when I lost my hair and everyone said that was the least of my problems but it was really important issue to me. Best of luck to both of you in this difficult time.

Posts: 343
Joined: May 2003

You are showing a lot of concern, empathy, and maturity with your desire to learn how to help and cope with your cousins cancer. Try not to offer too much unsolicited *advice*. If it is really beneficial, then it might be a good idea. Otherwise sometimes it is just a little too much. Also, just being there with them.. sharing a conversation, walk, drive with no destination, all these things are just as healing as any meds. Good luck to you and God bless you both.

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Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm at cycle 5 of 6 of ABVD chemo for hodgkins, and to be honest, what has probably helped me the most through all of this is that life around me has stayed normal and people haven't been freaking out. I think the best thing is that for both of my roommates, my cancer is a total nonissue. I dont mean that they aren't heartless or anything, they just dont fuss over me at all, and we do really normal things. A lot of times after chemo when I'm not feeling great and just waiting for time to pass by it helps to just listen/watch my roommates blab about their day and do their everyday things.
But i do agree with the above, control is a big thing. Like for example, when I was in the hospital in november, for some reason it was a really big thing to be able to choose what i ate at every meal. so it really is the little things, and for me personally i feel the best when I feel that everything is relatively close to normal. So I guess that just spending time with your cousin doing everyday things, running errands with her if shes up to it, etc, would be the way I would want to be treated. oh and movies :) movies are great because they take no effort, yet you can still feel like someone is with you.

I say all the above with the caveat that everyone responds to their situation differently. I think you should just be yourself, do what comes naturally to you. its pretty easy to tell if someone changes or tries to be different just because the situation is different. I think your cousin would feel the best and the most normal if you just did what you would do with her and around her normally. :)

good luck with everything!!!!

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