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The Voice of the Black Community


Cancer can stir inspiration or awkwardness
Support is always appreciated during battle
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 1:57 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles on cancer as part of The Post’s “Racing Against Cancer” initiative to raise awareness of the disease and its impact.

Battling cancer can inspire or crush hope.

Life revolves around hope – for one’s own future or the future of others. What happens when hope goes into a vacuum?

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and that is consistent regardless of whether it’s breast, colon, lung—smoker or nonsmoker,” said Shannon Crystal, a licensed clinical and oncology social worker at Novant Health’s Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center at 242 Colonial Ave. “There’s this randomness that comes with this disease that no matter what ethnicity you are, or what stage in life you are, the thing that is consistent is from the day you hear that word it changes your life. Whether it’s a life-altering or a life-threatening diagnosis, there’s a different path when it’s life-threatening, meaning initially when you are diagnosed, it’s stage four as opposed to someone who is diagnosed with a potentially curative disease.”

Cancer can bring a flood of support. On occasion, well-meaning friends and family can put the proverbial foot-in-mouth with awkward words of encouragement at the wrong time.

“One of the most common things I hear is that people with the best intentions can say some really unhelpful things through the whole process, and during loss especially,” Crystal said. “When people do say things that are really not helpful, and you know that they care and that it’s coming from a caring place, it’s OK to give yourself permission to kind of circle back to say ‘I know it’s well-intentioned, but that was not helpful.’ I would love a few re-dos. We all would.”

One of the best ways to support someone going to through cancer is encourage the individual to have things to hope for and by showing concern.

“When you’re vested in taking care of yourself, and kind of managing your energy as a patient or a family member, the thing you can do is just show up—not literally, but check in,” Crystal said. “Ask ‘how are you doing, really?’ Most people take time for granted. A cancer diagnosis makes you consider time. You start to pay attention to how you want to fill that time.”

Join the fight by contributing through The Post’s Go Fund Me page. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society: www.gofundme.com/racing-against-cancer


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