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Create A Group Of People Who Can Support You

Create A Group Of People Who Can Support You

Photo by  Omar Lopez  on  Unsplash

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

It is said that you only realistically have time for 11 core people in your life.  Apart from putting together your A-Team of doctors/guides, it is just as important to have a team of supportive friends and family.  This falls under the category of primary foods:  career, relationships, exercise, spirituality, etc. (everything else besides nutrition and supplements). Keep the helpful ones, drop the rest.  Figure out which people are the most helpful in supporting your decisions.  You will most likely get advice and suggestions all along the way, without even asking.  I’ve had someone talk AT me for 20-30 min, giving me unsolicited advice on what I SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be doing. Ultimately, it is your decision.  Be wary of people unintentionally giving negative energy and taking away your control and ability to decide what is right for you.  They mean well.  And they could be right.  But now is the time for you to sort through the information and make the right choice for you.  There will always be differing opinions and some people will be aggressive at voicing these opinions.  Remind yourself that this is how they are trying to give love and support to you.  Just nod your head while they are talking and accept it as love and leave the rest.

It's your journey, not theirs.  I had a friend who said he would be there for me through it all.  He was adamant about doing as the oncologist recommended: chemo, surgery and radiation.  At that time, I was completely against all of that and I chose to try alternative methods.  He was so fearful of my decision, we constantly got in arguments.  There was no way he could have, or anyone else for that matter, persuaded me to do otherwise.

In the beginning, my oncologist suggested a combo of 3 agents together.  I eventually tried this combo about a year later.  It did not work for me--tumor size and tumor markers were the same before and after chemo.  The only thing different was when the chemo was initially suggested, the tumor was much smaller.  No one will ever know if the 3 agents would have been more effective in the beginning.  But the point is, my friend could not be supportive of whatever decision I was making and it was causing me stress.  Communication between us stopped mutually and this was what I needed at the time.  He later told me that he couldn’t bear to watch me die.  He was imposing his beliefs onto me.  I had to try a natural method, it was a part of my journey.

Accept that some people cannot deal with the cancer.  It probably doesn’t have anything to do with you.   It’s their own limitations that prevent them from doing so.  It could be that they are looking at their own mortality.  It could be that they don’t know how to communicate.  It could be that seeing you go through this hardship would make them face emotions that they cannot bear.  I’ve noticed that men have a harder time with this.  Men are typically not encouraged to be nurturing or to express sadness.  Most people just don’t even know what to say.

There are a few people who were close to me that could not handle being there.  I’ve had to take a look at how this made me feel and acknowledge my emotions, that the disappointment was my inner truth at the moment.  Then I realized that I needed to have compassion for these people.  I put myself in their shoes to try and make sense of their actions.  It’s not that they didn’t care.  It’s that because of who they are that they are not able to be what I need.  And that's OK.

Some people are your teachers.  The challenges we face in life can play a big role in learning.  The people who cannot be supportive are teaching a lesson of empathy.  Accepting a person’s limitation gives you peace.  It shifts the focus from your pain to the other person’s pain.  For the moment, they are not capable of more.  Whether a person can be supportive or not, they can also be your teacher.  A person can support your decisions and be there to drive you to appointments, but what if their stressful nature is impacting your healing?  This is a lesson of empathy, as well as patience.

Training your allies.  Communicate how their behavior is affecting you and ask them to become mindful of this.  If this person is helping more than harming, and you decide to keep them in your life, you will need to practice patience and remind them now and again.

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