Empathy – Critical Awareness

Empathy

When empathy becomes reality, your empathy has failed you.  Watching someone experience something is not the same as experiencing it.  This goes both ways.  It is not fair to claim you know something, when you don’t.  This post is about exploring the reality of cancer, our perception, empathy and our roles.

Empathy

Perception

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend.  She said that I wasn’t appreciating her and that I haven’t given her that appreciation for six months.  I told her that the reason was because I was going through chemotherapy.  She said that chemo was no excuse, then continued to say that she knows what chemo was like because her father went through it.  Her father was able to make her feel appreciated while he was going through treatment, so I should have too.

I told her that chemo was not an excuse, that it was a reality.  That for the last six months I’ve faced the most terrifying and painful experience of my life.  Things that she has never experienced and has no true understanding of.  That she would never understand what it feels like until she’s gone through chemotherapy (something I hope she never does).  I told her that I’m not her father, boyfriend and she is not my daughter and my role in her life is not as a significant other or parent.  That it sucks to feel unappreciated and as her friend I wished her feelings were not hurt.

Empathy

Friends do things that we may sometimes consider deplorable.  Her comment could easily be considered as such.  In the moment I was calm and didn’t allow it to hurt my feelings.  Later my feelings were hurt by it a little bit, but I vented to my significant other.  Then those bad feelings dissolved.

Friendship is about more than just the good times.  Sometimes we say things when we are really stressed that hurts those close to us.  I believe the fair thing to do here is to accept what they say as stress and move on.

Roles

If you have a loved one with cancer, it doesn’t mean you know what the experience of cancer is like.

Just because you…

  • have walked with someone in their cancer journey doesn’t mean that you know what its like to have cancer.
  • watched someone go through chemotherapy doesn’t mean you know what its like to go through chemotherapy.
  • know someone who went had surgery, doesn’t mean you know what its like to go through surgery.
  • know someone who had radiation treatment, doesn’t mean you know what its like to experience radiation treatment.

If you have cancer, it doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch someone you love suffer through cancer.

Just because you…

  • have cancer doesn’t mean that you know what its like to watch someone go through cancer.
  • went through chemotherapy doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch a loved one go through chemotherapy.
  • had surgery, doesn’t mean you know what its like to be there for someone going through surgery.
  • went through radiation treatment, doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch someone go through radiation treatment.

If you would like to read about the journey of cancer feel free to continue your exploration by clicking on this link.

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