“How are you doing?” #2 In Series
One of the observations I’ve made over the past 7 years living in an environment impacted by cancer has been the hesitation of people to ask cancer patients “How are you doing?”.
The more I noticed it, the more I realized I also had reservations in the past about asking this question to anyone impacted by a life changing circumstance, whether it be health, career, or personal. I didn’t want to be THAT person that ruined a friend’s day by asking a question that would open up wounds that had finally started to heal because they were able to focus on other things. I didn’t want to be THAT person that brought a conversation down. By nature, I wanted to be THAT person that would provide only positive and uplifting feedback that would help a friend move forward. I needed to feel comfortable with the conversation.
Sadly, I have learned it can also segregate cancer patients from being part of any relational fabric with friends, family, and community. I have seen how it can cause patients to isolate and withdraw themselves from normal conversation, and worse, the perception of a normal life they so often need to fight cancer.
Fortunately, we have been surrounded by amazing people that have shown me that my initial fears of asking people in crisis “How are you doing?” is unfounded. I’ve seen the amazing impact on Jeanie when she comes back from a visit or a walk with someone that has dared to ask the question. They dared to ask about the “elephant in the room”. They dared to sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of comforting others.
So the next time you are with someone who is struggling with a life altering event, be THAT person that asks “How are you doing?”. The worst thing that could happen is they can change subject and the best thing that could happen is that you could be the difference in their day.
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