While attending a conference or event for some cause other than cancer survivorship, I invariably hear insights and stories that clarify and/or reinforce messages about Healthy Survivorship. Yesterday was no different.
One of the speakers was an engaging, articulate young woman who described the breakthrough with her parents, who were completely baffled by her emotional reactions to food and inability to eat normally. She told them, "Mom, Dad: I don't need you to understand this, I just need you to believe me."
In other posts I've discussed how difficult -- if not impossible -- it is to understand the pain and emotions of someone else. No matter how hard you try, you simply can't grasp what it's like for that person to go through a challenge, especially if you have not experienced the same challenge yourself.
But that doesn't mean you can't help or make a huge difference. Acknowledging the divide, you can reach across with love and compassion, "I can only imagine what this is like for you, but I am here to help you any way I can."
I addressed a related topic of potential problems in the physician-patient relationship in an article titled, "Do You Understand?" To read the article, click here.