Little things mean a lot. A giant card signed by people in the church and a basketful of get well cards, thoughtful notes and children's drawings were hand delivered to the hospital when my husband had his surgery. They were a continual source of comfort and encouragement to a man who is not usually a greeting-card-kind-of-guy. At one particularly low point in his recovery, I read all the names out loud to him. We were both very moved.
Shield the vulnerable. A cancer victim needs every ounce of strength to fight the disease and is not up to his normal responsibilities. During and right after my husband's treatment, I tried to remove burdens by handling situations myself and saving stressful news for a later time. Other people who were sensitive to his need to rest from job worries endeared themselves to me.
Fear factor. When the patient hears, "We think we got it all" or "The tests look normal," he has cause for rejoicing. But, nagging fears that the cancer will reappear creep back in, especially when it is time for post-treatment checkups. To allay his anxiety, you can point the cancer victim to the hope we have in Christ. Also, you can support him by going with him to follow-up visits as one couple did for my husband when I had to get back to my job. Because no one can predict the future, it is best to avoid saying that the cancer will never come back.
Well in body although considerable rumpled up in spirit. Cancer takes a toll on the patient's body and spirits. The physical and emotional effects of some cancers are not readily seen by the casual observer. It may be difficult for the cancer survivor to see people going back to life as usual when he faces a "new normal." I experienced that frustration as a caregiver and appreciated people who offered me a sympathetic, listening ear. Knowing that people still remember to pray is a great encouragement to both of us, as well.
All that ministry of sending cards, cultivating sensitivity, offering biblical encouragement, driving to doctors' offices, listening with care and praying without ceasing is valuable to those who are suffering from cancer and their loved ones. Such a compassionate ministry is important.