by Dianne May, president & CEO
It happened again. A woman came in yesterday to learn about Cancer Services. She lost her husband a little over two years ago and she is working to make peace with their cancer journey and what has become the new normal in her life.
As our outreach coordinator, Linda, showed her around the building and explained the help and support that is available, a small tear rolled down her cheek. She said no one told them about Cancer Services when they needed it. She saw the warehouse and remembered the precious time she spent finding and figuring out what kind of equipment she needed to make him comfortable at home. She lamented that she didn’t have someone to talk with; someone to whom she could pour out all the emotions swirling inside her. She asked aloud why no one told them about Cancer Services.
There are lots of explanations. Sometimes the focus is on a search for treatment options and clinical trials. Sometimes, people assume if the family has good medical insurance that will take care of everything. Sometimes it simply gets lost in all the information that patients and caregivers receive.
The next time you learn that someone you know has cancer, make it a point to tell them about Cancer Services. They may already know about the help available, but they might not. Be patient and explain the basics. Make sure that they know you’re not talking about a hospital or treatment center. Let them know that there is something for everyone. It’s not about money—how much you have or don’t have. Cancer Services is here because caring people in our community understand what it means to have cancer and they want to help. Compassion, knowledge and support, it’s what Cancer Services does and you can help by telling people where to find it.
by Gail Hamm, program director
Sitting with a client or family member who is expressing deep emotion can be uncomfortable. But it is equally uncomfortable for the person who is opening her heart and expressing her deepest feelings. Cancer Services’ advocates experience this opportunity on a daily basis. I say opportunity, because it is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to actively listen and not have to offer advice or solutions; an opportunity to share sacred space with another human being.
What do you say to a man who has just told you that he has two months to live? What do you say to a mother who has just told you that her daughter will never see her sixth birthday? Advocates do not take this responsibility lightly. They realize the sacredness of the moment. It is all about being. Being present, being thoughtful, being in a listening mode. It is not necessarily about doing.
Care and compassion, empathy and acceptance…..being with our clients and their families is the greatest gift Cancer Services’ advocates can give.