Brian Mansfield is a writer for USA Today and was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 48.  Brian chronicles his life with cancer in a series of articles called, “My Semicolon Life.” Today, I want to share with you one example of Brian’s caregiving wisdom on what to say to a cancer patient:

Brian asks: “What’s the very best thing you can hear from a friend when you’ve got cancer?”
Brian’s Answer: “I’m coming over. What can I bring?”

Brian says, “My friend Ed calls me every week and asks me this. Ed is bigger than me and louder than me, and he puts me at ease because I know I’ll never have to worry about talking too much around him.

When Ed thinks I haven’t asked for enough, he comes up with his own ideas. The first time Ed came over, I asked him to track down a nutritional-shake powder at Whole Foods that people had recommended. Ed not only figured out what I was talking about, he also brought yogurt and smoothies and the very first copy of his new album. When I couldn’t think of anything the next week, he showed up with a box of bagels, a couple of Bruce Springsteen bootlegs and an autographed album from JD Souther. Everybody should have a friend like Ed.”

Thank you, Brian, for sharing your caregiving wisdom.

So often we say to people who are going through a tough time. “Call me if I can help in any way,” or “What can I do for you?” and they usually say, “Oh nothing, I’m doing fine” which is usually a lie. We need to be like Ed and state, “I am coming over (add a day and time, if you wish); what may I bring you?” Then if your suffering friend can’t think of anything, use your imagination.  What are their interests or hobbies?

If you need additional ideas, check out our free e-book, 122+ Ways to Care Well.

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder

Karen Mulder is the founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry. She lives in Holland, Michigan with her husband Larry.

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