How the Cancer Community Is Hurting Itself

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

When I started writing a weekly blog more than 10 years ago, those who came to my site had gathered in the cancer community to help and support each other in any way possible. Over time, as social media platforms and access to information and support have evolved into massive amounts of places for people to go to find information, etc., it seems as though the landscape has come from a point of collaboration to one of competition.

We are all here to help one another. To do anything less and disrespect another in any manner diminishes us on an individual basis and the work of this entire community. Barbara Jacoby

Every day, I see requests for help and assistance on all levels within the world of cancer. Everyone expects that if they have developed a project, program or platform for which they are seeking engagement from the cancer community that everyone else should support their efforts. When this is not the case, they often become defensive, angry and retaliatory. So, what I have been trying to figure out is the cause for such behavior.

I believe that over time a lack of respect has developed among those who see this community as a place to compete for the attention of the cancer patients and their needs. However, they have forgotten that every single person who has made a contribution on any level in the cancer community has done so because they felt there was a need for whatever it is that they wish to share. Quite often, this is because there are so many different points of view and needs for services and help and reasons to want to make a difference. But, when we reach the point where we are no longer serving the community and have become self-serving instead, it is time to make a change.

The lack of respect that more people seem to have developed for one another at every level of a cancer journey is becoming magnified as the attitude of competition or one of entitlement grows. Quite often it starts at the very first point of a patient’s disrespecting a medical professional or a medical professional disrespecting a patient. When the time comes when people believe that everything is to be done in accordance with their own way of thinking, behavior or needs at a particular time, and they have not received the feedback that they expected, to turn to disrespecting the other party on any level is not acceptable.

Such seems to be the case across all lines. I have seen many patients having to deal with family, friends and other associates who would rather inflict their own beliefs and ideas on how a cancer patient should act and/or react based upon their own ideas. However, they have forgotten that no person can walk in the shoes of another. Therefore, what one person may experience can be totally and completely different from another person who finds themselves in what appears to be the exact same position.

It all comes down to one thing – RESPECT! It truly is necessary for our community to have success in helping and supporting each other, whatever the situation may be. In order to accomplish this, we must learn to respect each other’s opinions, positions, ideas and even suggestions without judgment. No one else is in a position to understand what motivates any individual’s behavior as they cannot walk a mile in that person‘s shoes. Therefore, just because you don’t believe the same way as another person or find that your truth in whatever the issue may be is different, it is beneficial to everyone to listen and try to understand from where the other person may be approaching. And if you are not able to help someone else or work with someone on the level that they are requesting, we need to kindly explain our position to others and move on.

There is absolutely no excuse ever to diminish another person, their work, beliefs and/or their understanding on any position. And should you ever choose to do so, it should be with the understanding that others will eventually respond to you and your requests in the exact same manner. We are all here to help one another. To do anything less and disrespect another in any manner diminishes us on an individual basis and the work of this entire community. Therefore, I am hoping that we will all remember why we are here together and get back to the real reason and that is to help one another.