October is breast cancer awareness month, and Raleigh residents have gone to great lengths to increase awareness and to raise money to support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. Women of all ages have been dyeing strands of hair pink to raise awareness. Running events such as the Get Heeled 5K, which raised approximately $75,000, have received support from Raleigh residents and businesses. Pink ribbons can be found in almost any parking lot or shopping center. There are numerous ways to support this cause, but one of the simplest and most rewarding ways is to personally invest one’s time, heart, and resources into the life of someone who is battling cancer. One will likely never find a better friend than one who has journeyed down the cruel road of suffering paved by cancer.
When one has not experienced cancer personally, it is often difficult to know how to show love to someone who has received the diagnosis. While most people want to express their support, far too often, not knowing what to say results in doing and saying nothing.
With all its gut-wrenching agony, cancer can be a phenomenal teacher and refiner. While cancer is no respecter of persons in this fallen world, God can take anything, even cancer, and bring goodness out of it.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)
Laura Soper has gained much wisdom through her battle with breast cancer and is graciously sharing these insights with others. This article will summarize some of the lessons she has learned regarding how to respond to a loved one who has received a cancer diagnosis. The next article will discuss how cancer has changed her perspective on life.
“I want to say it was the most horrible year of my life, and in a way that is true, [but] I can not deny the joyous new life that sprouted from the noxious, rotting soil of cancer.” (Laura Soper, breast cancer survivor and victor)
Do not let fear prevent you from reaching out to cancer victims. Express empathy. Let them know you are sorry for their suffering.
25 “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. “(1 Corinthians 12: 25-26)
Cry with them. Pray for them often.
17 “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV)
Refrain from mentioning others you may know who have had the same type of cancer. Do not prattle about other people’s experiences with cancer. Laura writes, “Every cancer is different, and someone else’s story is not your story.”
Not knowing what one should tangibly do to support the loved one facing a cancer diagnosis, well meaning Christians will often say, “Let me know if there is anything that I can do.” However, Laura notes that this statement is vague and open-ended. It requires the sufferer to humbly ask for help. Instead, it would be better to simply tell the friend specifically what you like to do for her. Laura offered the following examples of things she might say to someone who has received a cancer diagnosis:
“I would like to take your kids on Saturday so you and your spouse can have some quality time together.”
“I am making lasagna tomorrow night, and I would like to bring some over for you for dinner.”
Laura was joyfully overcome by the wide variety of ways people ministered to her. One friend came to her house regularly at no charge to give her private yoga instruction which helped alleviate some of the side effects of chemotherapy. Others watched her children during doctor visits or took them to school and extracurricular activities while she rested. Even people she hardly knew who were working multiple jobs to make ends meet gave of their time and resources to bring meals to her family. Ask God to show you creative ways to offer support and love to families affected by cancer.
“…serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13b)
When a person first hears of a friend’s diagnosis, he or she may respond right away with phone calls, cards, gifts, and prayers. After the first month, however, the displays of support begin to dwindle. Cancer treatment is a long, exhausting process with new issues arising with each new phase. Treatment may take a year or more, and some of the most difficult moments for the cancer victim may occur six months or later after the initial diagnosis. Send cards and make phone calls throughout the cancer journey. Laura noted that even if the person doesn’t answer the phone, knowing that a friend cares and is there for them is tremendously important.
“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a, NIV)
For more insights from Laura, visit “Living life to the fullest: Cancer survivor is almost thankful for cancer”.
To follow Raleigh Christian Living, click on “subscribe” above or “like “Raleigh Christian Living Examiner on Facebook.