It is not easy to hear that someone has cancer. But even if every bone in your body screams, “I can’t do it,” you have an opportunity to offer help and comfort. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives high importance to visiting the sick and equates it with our treatment of Him.
Here are some hints to help you in your mercy ministry to people touched by cancer.
- Say something. To the person who is hurting because of a cancer diagnosis, silence seems like rejection. The three best words my husband heard after he announced his cancer were, “I’m so sorry.” A few words are very meaningful.
- Don’t say too much. Cancer makes people nervous. Nervous people can talk…a lot. For instance, if someone is reeling from a bad diagnosis, he doesn’t want to hear about your own health problems or all the people you know who have suffered with this type of cancer.
- Acknowledge that cancer is not contagious. Sick people need all the caring you can muster. Don’t be afraid to touch someone who has cancer or the wife of someone who has cancer. Don’t take one step backwards.
- Be careful with questions. It is natural to try to figure out how you can prevent bad things in your own life. However, questioning the patient about how this cancer was contracted implies that if he ate more antioxidants like you have, for example, he could avoid the cancer altogether.
- Offer well-defined assistance. Volunteer to help in very specific ways. The person suffering from cancer might not respond to, “What can I do?” but he may be able to give a yes or no to, “May I come over a few days after you get home to mow your lawn?” One Deacon’s help was invaluable to me. He said, “I’m your point person while your husband is recovering. Call me for whatever you need, and I will arrange it for you.” And he did.
- Don’t stop praying. We are tempted to move on to the next prayer request once the patient enters the recovery room. Instead, I suggest that you start praying with more fervor at that point. The real emotional and spiritual battles are just beginning.
God will bless you for ministering in such ways. And, as one who has received such care from others, I thank you, too. See More Compassion for Cancer for additional hints.