Creating a Strong Social Network
The importance of intentionally creating a strong network of loving and caring people that support those experiencing cancer through their journey to wholeness cannot be understated. Evidence of this can be seen by reading the testimonies in chapter 8 of the book, Radical Remission by Kelly A. Turner, Ph.D.: Embracing Social Support. There is so much exceptional information in this chapter that I don’t feel I can adequately convey all that we need to glean from it, however the simplest way to express the theme is that receiving love helps heal the body. I am coming to believe, now that I’m nearly five months into this, that the purpose of cancer showing up in our lives is multi-purposed, the primary being to show us who we really are and to work to create the authentic human God created us to be.
So many of us are great at giving ourselves to those that need support for a variety of reasons, but when our days of testing come (and they will come) we are often the worst at receiving that same support. Receiving is difficult. It requires one to lay down preconceived beliefs–including walls we may have built–and open ourselves in a way that is vulnerable to the ‘nth degree. It requires that we strip ourselves of pride and remove any mask we might by subconsciously wearing, especially if we are in leadership at any level. We are used to being the strong ones in the eyes of our peers, the supportive ones, those that publicly appear to have it all together. This was a battle I went through when deciding whether I should share on social media that I had cancer. It was as if God wanted me to put it all out there, and now I know why.
Those of us who need this lesson must learn to open our hearts to any and all that wish to serve us whether through the support of prayer, taking us to doctor appointments, calling (or texting) to encourage us, assisting with finances (cancer is a business that is extremely costly even with co-pays) for the many daily expenses patients incur, etc. especially if you are going the alternative route. Insurance does not cover alternative treatment. There is extra food, herbs and supplements, massages that serve to open the circulatory system, and a host of other treatments that work together to build your immune system so it can heal your body.
I refer once again to science. Kelly writes, “It is proven that loved ones help our bodies heal. When we are surrounded by loved ones or even our pets, the feeling of being loved releases a flood of potent hormones into our blood streams which not only make us feel better emotionally but also strengthens our immune systems significantly. Receiving love from others when we are sick actually helps the body heal itself.”
We must learn to understand the importance of physical touch. Our dog, Luke, nicknamed Joy Bringer because of his intensely happy attitude brings me this loving and joyful feeling every morning. He is the one that wakes me up by slowly crawling up to Marion’s pillow (he gets up before I do) and laying his head on it facing me. He will then lay there until I open my eyes. I always know when he is on the bed so play the game with him. If I do not open my eyes in a timely manner for him, Luke will move closer to my face, give me a lick on the nose, and start wagging his tail and body. I must get Marion to video it one day, lol! It brings me a great rush of being loved and a tremendous way to start the day.
God has inspired so many wonderfully loving friends to reach out in support. One purchased some healing tea and had it sent to me. Another sent an inspirational book, and other a devotional that assisted her in her own cancer journey, another made me some lovely placemats for my dining table that make me smile every time I walk past the table, and another sent some unexpected monetary support. I cannot fail to mention the numerous cards and messages that I keep on my end table by the sofa so I can refer to them regularly, especially when I feel a bit low. Since laughter is a great healer, I have had numerous calls from those who just “call to encourage and cheer me” and I always feel healed afterwards. The pain literally diminishes during some of these calls when we laugh a great deal. You all are playing a large role in my healing and I am eternally grateful. Thank you!!
I thoroughly appreciate what one radical remission survivor states, “I learned so much, including one of the major ways I said no to life. I learned that people love. People love to love. It is inherent in our DNA. They look for opportunities to give, but reciprocity requires that there is a receiver for that love to flow. So, I learned how to receive love.”
This has been my lesson as well. Learning to receive requires that others give into your life. God is helping me through those He is inspiring to give into my journey, to walk it with me, and to hold up my spirits when there is simply no energy left to keep them high. Never underestimate the power of your gift, whatever that gift may be. It’s often the small ones that we deem insignificant that are the most treasured.