I’ve learned the past few weeks of quite a few people facing pretty serious health issues. The kind of issues that, if not fought vigorously, could be fatal. Of course, I am always saddened, angered and frustrated when I hear of news like this. Part of it is selfish. I long for the days when I could be like much of the population, who having not gone through a serious health issue of their own, will most likely hear the news, think to themselves “that’s too bad but, I’m glad it’s not me or my family” and then, pretty much go about their days. It is not their faults. It’s human nature. Until you have gone through something, it is very hard to really and truly be able to empathize with others going through trials and struggles.

I know this from experience. When I was first diagnosed, there were certain people who would react just like I’ve outlined above. They would go through the motions of asking me how I was doing. I would tell them, “Oh, I have a scan Monday and then, start my second round of chemotherapy on Tuesday.” I would see these same people Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (you get the idea). More often than not, they wouldn’t ask me how the scan went, how the chemo went, or anything of the like.  Wrapped up in their own lives, as we so often are, they don’t remember to follow up to see how you actually made out. I have noticed, though, that some of these people, in the past ten years since I have been diagnosed, have had really serious things happen to them. It’s only then that they remember to follow up, to really and truly begin to understand how important it is to not only ask “how are you?” or to feel sorry for me. It is the ability to really listen to what I am saying and keep it with you so that you can remember to ask me how I did with a test, a procedure, so that you can think to yourself, Nicole had a chemo Thursday, let me see if she needs some help with the kids over the weekend.

I write this because, like I said, I have heard of quite a few people who are just wrapping their hands and getting ready to put the gloves on and start fighting. Maybe, through this blog, those people who would ordinarily not think to go the step further or complete the follow up or however you want to put it, will do so.

Remember, many people who are diagnosed with an illness are already feeling so vulnerable and weak and betrayed by their body, they will do anything they can to try and make themselves feel like they don’t need help. They are in denial. They absolutely need help; whether it is a gift certificate for a dinner, for a mani/pedi, a ride to the doctor, homemade chicken soup, a phone call to crack jokes and cheer them up, an offer to bring over a nice big cup of Starbucks and a movie, an offer to pick up a prescription, to help them clean the house, to take the kids for the day so that they can rest or spend time with their significant other. There are an unbelievable amount of things that you can do to help someone who is not one hundred percent medically. You can do it without making them feel helpless or inadequate.

Don’t make them feel like you feel sorry for them. What worked for me is when people would say, at my hesitation to accept the help, “you would do it for me, wouldn’t you?”. I knew that this was true. It made it easier to accept. An easier pill to swallow, if you will.

I hope that my friends and family going through these health trials will come out, even stronger than ever, on the other side. Until then, help them. Despite what they may say, they will really, really need it.