Cancer has an amazing capacity to destroy, deform and debilitate. Feeling helpless in helping friends and family who have it or have very close loved ones who have cancer brings those same qualities. You can fight cancer – and win – but it’s hard to fight feeling helpless.
One way to fight that feeling is to recognize that:
1) you are doing what you can
2) you are doing as much as the person will allow you to do. what that means is, some people aren’t comfortable at all with receiving help and it’s very hard for them. Traditionally this is viewed as a strength – he / she fought with dignity and did it their way. That is the easier route when it comes to cancer. Letting people in, letting you see their hurt, requires a strong bond and requires everyone seeing and dealing with atypical aspects of life and death, which alway seem to loom close even when death really hasn’t got a chance.
3) even the smallest thing being done, flowers, a hug, a short letter, matters as long as it’s sincere. There isn’t enough sincerity in the world. Any action along these lines is a positive in an ocean of problems created one drop at a time running off the person’s body. Cancer water torture.
Even doing something, you will still feel helpless to some extent. You won’t be a cure, but you can make a lot of the painful symptoms disappear.
Directly, I know six people who have cancer or who are dealing with a family member with cancer. Well, since one is my wife I would also have to include my children and my and her whole family. Cancer, even in remission is always more of a reality after it’s arrived than just the “theoretical” idea that people get cancer. That reality is a much bigger part of life that easily blocks out all other things a lot of the time. That’s a separate fight, shared by the family, friends and the person with cancer.