September 17, 2012

More Compassion for Cancer

My husband is a cancer survivor. Experience in coming alongside him on this difficult journey teaches me how to minister to others in similar situations. Here are some helpful hints to add to the ones I posted in Compassion for Cancer.

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.


  1. How do you think being in ministry changes/impacts the way we experience life traumas like cancer? I'm wondering if your last point of "well in body" is especially true for someone who is a public figure. . .outward health might mask inward struggles.

  2. It is unrealistic to think that all but the closest relatives could sustain the level of concern they had during the surgery and immediate recovery. We all have our own life's problems to deal with. Continued support through a lengthy illness is even more difficult for people to provide.

    Plus, I think some spiritual and emotional struggles (cancer-related and otherwise) are too personal to share with all those you minister to. The people might be afraid for their own health, overwhelmed or indiscreet, which can cause more pain to the minister in the long run. I wish more people were equipped and willing to minister to the minister in these sorts of situations.

    Part of the puzzle is that we who minister sometimes think we have an image to maintain. We are much better at giving from a place of strength than receiving assistance from a place of weakness. People want to help, but we won't let them into our lives enough so that they know what we need. Personally, I need to ask God for wisdom in this area of my life.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...