How to Engage the Story of Another

As we continue to hold Cortney’s story (Part 1 and Part 2) as a community, it is my hope that we continue to learn how to allow the telling of another’s experience to grow our understanding of life and increase our wisdom. I wholeheartedly believe that is how we, as the receivers of a story, can tap into the transformative nature of story-sharing. We must sit with it, think about it, engage it and reflect on the themes and messages underlying the story. At times, connecting to a story feels seamless. At other times, entering into the story of another can be challenging. At times the disconnect can be the result of a guardedness by way of the story-teller, but often the disconnect has more to do with the listener’s own capacity (or lack thereof) to reach past the invisible fences that leave us feeling alone in our own stories.

In her blog, The Silver Pen, Hollye Jacobs offers insight on how to be the silver lining around the cloud of cancer to friends and loved ones battling the disease. After working as a nurse, social worker and child development specialist for 15 years, Hollye was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and learned firsthand what it was like to be a patient and to be the one in need of the care, guidance and support of others. In my opinion, her wisdom and instructions can easily extend well beyond solely engaging loved ones with cancer. Whether you are connected to someone who is recovering from a preemptive double mastectomy and preparing to have reconstructive surgery, or you are supporting someone who just found out they have an autoimmune disorder – whatever the life-altering scenario, Hollye’s tips are worth embracing.

It’s so easy to connect with friends when talking over lunch, catching up while going for a hike, or planning a dinner party. However, if cancer strikes your friend, the dynamics of your relationship will change in a big way! I have experienced this both as someone who has had cancer as well as in the position of being a friend of someone who has cancer.

As I have said before, cancer does not happen in isolation. It didn’t just happen to me. It happens to a person’s family, friends, and community. What this means to you, the friend of someone who has cancer, is that you have the opportunity to play an important supporting role for your friend throughout their cancer journey. Don’t feel overwhelmed or helpless. They may see you as of their most important Silver Linings through out their sickness.

*Continue to read her five suggestions on how to support a friend with cancer over at The Silver Pen.

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