As you may or may not know,
I try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to my personal battles with my own illness--in 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in which affects my major arteries and blood vessels, thus putting me at risks everyday for things that currently have no cure.
Despite my daily challenges, I still choose to get up out of bed, go to work, have fun, and live as "normal" as any sick twenty-something year old possibly could.
That being said, I believe in the importance of awareness within the chemotherapy community--whether you or someone you know has a type of cancer, autoimmune disease, or other rare, incurable illness which has forced them to take chemotherapy drugs--because of the unknowingness I have personally encountered before I ever knew what chemo was.
As someone who has (and currently is) on a strict regimen of medications which include chemotherapy, there are a few points that should be noted by those who may not know how to approach someone undergoing something of the sort. Of course, I cannot speak for everyone with an illness, but here are 4 things I personally enjoy hearing whenever I am down in the dumps about my condition and need some affirmation in the day from a loved one.
As someone who has (and currently is) on a strict regimen of medications which include chemotherapy, there are some points worthy of being noted
By nature, most people who have gone through a tremendous amount of physical strife and trauma do not want to feel like they are somehow unable to do what "normal" people their age can do. But this is a question that warms our heart, because it takes us a step closer to wanting to feel vulnerable and honest about our situation.
2. How are you feeling right now?
The generic "hope you get better" or "are you ok?" should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because one simply cannot just "get better." Unfortunately, having an illness puts us center stage to the harsh reality that things are completely out of our control in this moment, so I personally recommend saying something that rather focuses on checking in on us and not empty well-wishing.
3. Let me get that door for you.
Like I mentioned in the first affirmation, by nature we do not like to be reminded of the fact that we cannot do simple physical tasks, i.e. turn a doorknob, stand up for a long time, or open a bottle--without some kind of physical challenge. Many times in my experience, I didn't want to ask for help with certain tasks when others were around me but secretly hoped that someone would eventually step up to the plate and offer their physical help.
4. You are strong.
Something to this nature is always like a giant, warm hug to my heart. People enduring an illness or cancer are experiencing something that, despite their outward appearance, is terribly scary, unpredictable, and just overall difficult. Each day is really a challenge in itself. Hearing or reading others notice the amount of effort I put in to pull of the "normal people" look truly softens my soul and encourages me to continue my fight with perseverance.