I get asked a lot about how to support people going through chemotherapy, so I thought I would share a short story about the best thing my sister did while supporting me through the process of chemotherapy.
She was someone I could count on to listen and helped me feel comfortable enough to dump all my complaints on. The act of listening is one of the most compassionate things you can do, yet it is often taken for granted.
The listening meant so much to me because I had a lot to process and a lot of depressing feelings that thankfully did not have to be bottled up. Instead, I talked and my sister listened, then offered to help where my complaints were most severe. Sometimes it was finding some food I could stand to eat. Sometimes it was getting me movies to pass the time at the infusion center. Often it was just trying to get my head into a positive space.
Probably the most difficult thing to listen to was me insisting I could do things on my own when it was clear that I was struggling, but my sister listened and she convinced everyone else when they were worried about me.
It’s amazing how much of a difference that some confidence can make in your mentality. As someone who was running half marathons only months earlier, getting winded by walking up and down the stairs is really depressing. I decided that I wanted to get out of the house and walk to the store (like a half mile away) and everyone else wanted me to rest and they would get whatever I needed from the store.
I’m glad someone would listen and let me struggle a bit. Going to the store that day was slow going, but that trip helped me remember that I can endure.
As far as I’m concerned, listening is the foundation that effective support is built upon.