I write this with a heavy heart. Merely thinking about what my first words would be to someone who has cancer takes my breath and words away. Which is OK, as long as I keep breathing because I don’t think it’s the words that matter so much.
Even though I can say I have first-hand experience with wondering what to say to someone with cancer, being that my wife has cancer, this does not mean that my advice is neither right nor wrong. It is simply my perspective.
Words Were Never Enough
For the first several years of our relationship, I kept looking for the right words, the perfect words to say to my wife that would ease her pain and suffering. Words that would bring her more ups and fewer downs.
What I neglected to realize after years of looking for that magic phrase is that words in and of themselves hold no power. It is the one who speaks that holds all of the power.
The words of some of the greatest leaders in history only held power because of who was speaking them. The power to be an enormously influential presence came as a result of their actions and who they showed up to be. Without their actions and presence, their words would hold about as much power as you or me.
Once I started to see this, I knew it was time to focus on who I am showing up as opposed to what I was going to say.
Be More Than Words
Now, I could be way off the mark here as I have never had cancer, I have only shared my life with someone who does. Based on my experience and feedback from my wife, one of the last things someone with cancer wants is to be surrounded by pity and fear.
Your ability to be present, while safely holding space full of love, understanding, and compassion will provide them infinitely more of what you want to give them than words ever could.
if we really want to be more than words, we must be love and not fear.
This is why it is so important to face your own fears surrounding cancer. If fear is dominating you then it is also dominating your love. Your presence will radiate fear and they will sense it.
What Would Mother Theresa Do?
Imagine, during one of the most painful memories you have ever experienced, that Mother Theresa approached you, with no words and no fear. She was radiating infinite love, compassion, and understanding as she walked toward you. You could just feel this infinite energy of love swarming all around you.
When she got to you, she draped her arms around you. She held you as if you were the only other person on this earth other than her.
Sure, Mother Theresa is a very wise woman, and she may whisper some words of wisdom in your ear. Ultimately, it is not the words that matter, anyone can say them, it is that they came from an infinite well of love.
It is her, as a human being, as a symbol of love, that brings you comfort, not the words.
See Them In Person
Nothing compares to human to human contact. It allows you to share space together, suspended by time and bound by love. You cannot achieve this through even the best technology in the world. Whether it be Facebook Live, FaceTime, or even a holographic figure of each other, none of them compare.
It doesn’t matter how close you are to them. It could be a work colleague that you have only spoken to once. If they aren’t well enough to make it into work and are at home resting, find out where they live and surprise them with your presence.
If you want to give them the gift of love, put yourself in front of them, give them a hug.
What If I Can’t See Them In Person?
Again, I strongly recommend you do find a way to see them in person, especially if this is someone close to you. Make sure you have exhausted every single option before you consider this. I understand that certain circumstances may not allow a face to face presence, and in this case, you need to find another way to show them your love beyond words.
The best gift we can give to someone with cancer is love, and lots of it
Ideas to show your love:
- Make something for them (food, art, woodwork, be creative)
- Send them a gift of an experience (a play, sporting event, date night, something they’ve always wanted to do but never did)
- Donate to a charity in their name
- Plant a tree in their name
- Write a song or poem, maybe even send a video of you reciting
Put your thinking cap on, make your gift of love thoughtful and memorable
Websites For Unique Flower and Gift Ideas:
If you have any other suggestion please share your own experiences and/or creative ideas.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.