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By Dr. Barb, August 9, 2019
Becky used to wear a sweatshirt that said “Never Walk Alone” with a picture of a dog. She loved ALL dogs and especially her own dogs. This message really resonates to the fact that we should all walk with someone. We can extrapolate that message to all sorts of applications – being safe in our environment by walking home with a buddy,* training with a friend to run a race, or offering support to a loved one going through treatment for cancer.
In all of our travels around the country speaking with breast centers, we can count on one hand the number of times a partner/spouse was sitting in the waiting room while their beloved was having their mammogram. Why is that?
The cancer journey, or any illness for that matter, is exactly that….a journey. Sometimes it is fun to take a solo journey but we have found that this is not the case for a trip alone. Becky had full support during her journey – her husband, family, friends, etc. Churches prayed for her and people in her community sent her well wishes. Having a hand to hold on the journey (or many hands) can help people in their healing. Qualitative studies about the healing journey (Scott, Warber, Dieppe, Jones, and Stange, 2017) begin this important conversation about support and its vital role in healing. Countless personal stories round out that picture.
As you or a loved one embark on this journey, prepare to have or give support. Talk to friends and family who can go with you to a test or sit with you during treatment. You may be feeling scared so reach out. Years ago I took a dear friend to her treatment on the days her husband could not. She was so appreciative that I took time out of my day to spend with her – giving her rides, sitting with her while she was having a procedure, bringing dinners over those evenings. These seemingly small gestures meant more to her than I realized. I would have wanted the same.
Remember, never walk alone. Take the journey with your loved one or ask for support. We all need that hand to hold in scary times.
Scott JG, Warber SL, Dieppe P, et al. Healing journey: a qualitative analysis of the healing experiences of Americans suffering from trauma and illness
BMJ Open 2017;7:e016771. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016771
*I want to give proper credit to the Weiser’s for creating the “Walk With Me” program in honor of their daughter Haruka Weiser, who was a student at the University of Texas at Austin campus and passed away April 3, 2016.