Sunday, August 14, 2011

Offering Hope

It's natural that people want to reach out and offer something, anything, to the person who must live with cancer.  It's natural too, that people might not know what to say, or do.  I've been in their shoes. Now I'm in the painful shoes of someone whose best-beloved lives with the disease.  At least for me,  one thing not to do is to  forward "good news" or "hopeful" articles about cancer cures, advances, and clinical trials.,0,1073777.story  Certainly we can be happy for every step toward treatments that ease people's suffering, offer remission, or even cures.  Twenty years down the road, maybe this treatment will be the "gold standard" and that's wonderful for patients, families, and even my own sons, please God forbid.  But it's not useful, hopeful, nor helpful to us right now today. 

What's an analogy here?  An aid worker happily tells a Somalian mother, "Great news in the midst of this famine!  We may have a new way to deliver food and medicine to starving children!  It's been tested in five children in Bangladesh with good results.  One day, it may help with starving people right here in Somalia!  Isn't that great news?"  Unspoken words:  Too late for you but you should be grateful anyway.

And...if you should send some sort of "cheerful, hopeful" message, please at least include a personal note to the one living with it and the one living with it second hand.  Sending it via mass "blind recipient" email is just not cool.

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