Ask Dr. Giles: How do I move past the “what if’s”?

Tiffany asks:

Dr. Giles: I’m fighting CC. I have a friend named Liza that is also fighting cancer (liver). She and I were friends before cancer. She is only 24, and I’m 30. Liza isn’t doing good. In fact she is about to die. How to I protect myself while show support to her family? Its hard watching a friend die, but knowing that we both have cancer in our liver is even harder. How do I move past the “what if’s”?

My thoughts go out to you and Liza. You and your friend are in a unique position to have a very keen understanding of what the other is going through. Trials bond us to each other like few other things can. For each of you, the future is uncertain.

In cases of uncertainty, it is best to focus on what immediately lies at hand. Those whose futures are unclear often will say that focusing on the here and now makes them feel so much freer. The regular cares and concerns of living fade to the background and they are free to experience every moment in their lives as if each moment were a precious gift–which it is! Embrace the time you have left with Liza. Shower her with kindness. See to her comfort. Hold her hand. Tell her what you admire about her. Share your thoughts and feelings about your own battle so she knows you know her.

If you are reading this after she has died, write to her family and tell her what she meant to you. Reflect on her humanity and her courage. Illuminate the trials she faced as she battled this cancer. No one is better positioned to tell her family what she went through than you. Your message to them would almost be like another chance to hear from their sister/daughter. It may help the family deal with their loss and it may also do the same for you.