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Can Words Encourage or Diminish?

Be brave. You can beat this.

“Be brave.  You can beat this.”

Do those words truly help someone managing through a serious illness?

There’s a fine line between good, helpful advice and the kind of empty, self-serving platitudes that can rub some people the wrong way.  Throw a cancer diagnosis in the mix, and the line becomes even finer.  And however unintentionally, too many of us may fall on the wrong side of that line.

Nancy Stordahl, a breast cancer survivor and author, tackles this quandary directly.  In a passionate essay entitled “Why Do We Keep Telling Cancer Patients How To Feel And What To Do” (featured on The Power Of Humanity section of Huffington Post), Nancy writes of the need for patients to find validation for their feelings of fear and anxiety…and how often their friends and family fall short in providing it.  “In fact,” she writes, “instead it’s often subtly, or not so subtly, suggested there are certain ways cancer patients should feel and certain things they should do” that don’t really provide the help one truly needs when facing the weeks and months ahead.

She lists some of the most common ones…do these sound familiar?
[checklist style=”3″]

  • “Be strong.”
  • “Stay positive.”
  • “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • “Find your new normal.”
  • “Be grateful”
  • “What gifts did cancer give you?” (!!!)

Nancy argues that while these are offered as encouragement, they can actually serve the opposite purpose for some people who need to express their own feelings.

“It might very well be more encouraging to allow for genuine-ness,” she writes.  “There is no need to fix or make light of anyone’s feelings, cancer or no cancer.”

By no means does she suggest that offers of support are not appreciated, and she acknowledges that many do find support from simple words of encouragement.  But in many cases, a sympathetic ear is what’s most needed.

“For many…listening, validating and allowing genuine feelings to be felt and shared might be a more helpful and loving option.”

You can read more from Nancy on her blog Nancy’s Point.

Do you agree with this?  What forms of encouragement and support help you the most?  Do you feel comfortable expressing financial anxiety to your friends and family?

At Fifth Season Financial, we know first-hand about the anxiety that financial issues can cause for a patient facing a difficult medical diagnosis.  We offer a practical solution that can provide large-sum advances from individual’s life insurance policies, all without incurring further debt and still allowing funds to remain for beneficiaries.  Contact us today to learn more!


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