Report on a lunchtime talk given for business matters by Karen Anderson.
business matters is very grateful to Lindsays who hosted this event and provided tea and coffee for those attending.
Karen gave a very insightful and personal talk drawn from her own experience of undergoing treatment for Hodgkins disease at the age of 33 and also from caring for a family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
You can listen to the talk by using the button at the foot of the page.
It was a talk filled with intensely practical advice, underpinned by a phrase which I found to be extremely helpful: “today is the new normal”.
Karen provided a handout with a list of key things to think about and also a list of amazing things that people had done for her during her illness, some obvious, others not so obvious. These lists are shown below.
It is helpful, however, to pick up on a number of other points that Karen made in the course of her talk:
- Identify people who are green, orange and red – “green” people are those who give you energy from your interaction with them, “orange” are neutral and “red” are, sadly, draining and probably best limited in contact – this categorisation can also be applied to activities
- Recognise the unpredictability of the whole situation and don’t expect yourself or others to be able to plan ahead with any certainty
- Think in terms of “am I better than I was a week ago?” rather than “how am I today?” and “how is it today?” rather than “how are you?”
- Look for people who are “fixers”, “long-termers”, “thoughtful” as those who will bring greatest “green” benefit
Here are the lists which Karen provided:
Things to think about:
- Recognise the “new normal”
- Communicate clearly your very low expectations of the patients and their carers
- Be careful not to bring germs when you visit (colds/coughs/sniffles included
- Offer options and easy choices
- Be honest when you are clueless but always reassure the person that you will not avoid them
- Plan for the long-term
Amazing things people did for Karen:
- Sat with her in silence
- Drove her to blood tests
- Offered lifts regularly to bible studies
- Kept her company at chemo
- Walked slowly
- Pushed her wheelchair
- Called her every day and chattered about their work day
- Played online chess
- Peeled carrots
- Kept her company the day after chemo
- Bought her books online
- Emailed her regularly
- Prayed for little things
- Accepted frequent cancellations and changes
- Accepted her without her wig
- Didn’t interrogate her as to why/how she got ill
- Didn’t tell her about Fred who climbed Kilimanjaro after chemo…
We are extremely grateful to Karen for her open and candid approach which gave us an insight into what is, for many, a difficult situation to know how to approach. Those at the talk commented how helpful it had been.