Being a cancer survivor often requires that we also need to find a way to be gracious and forgiving with family, friends and associates. When someone first learns we have cancer or even later on when we meet him or her they often don’t know what to say to us. Often, they will say something offensive or stupid in an effort to both comfort us and respond to their own personal fears.

Friends will sometimes stay away from us and then feel awkward when they do bump into us. There are many opportunities for us to extend grace and compassion to those who say and do truly inappropriate things. We need to figure out how to help our family and friends to ward off their embarrassment by really understanding that they never had lessons on dealing with cancer.

Extending our personal grace to them is something that can be the very hard, especially because their actions can be very hurtful. Some people I know have been very adamant in their conviction that such offenses don’t deserve our forgiveness and understanding. But, I can only respond that I personally am not willing to carry around the extra baggage that my negative feelings would entail, so for my own sake and for their sake I try to extend love, grace and forgiveness.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW