January 21, 2016

What I Learned when Cancer Hit my Family.

couple hug train

David Bowie’s death reminds me, these days, how short and valuable life is.

We never know when it comes to an end. It may be all of a sudden or after a long period of suffering.

One of my close family members has cancer.

Cancer, like David Bowie had. He was 69 when he succumbed to his cancer.

Being confronted with cancer in my own family taught me a lot about gratitude and fully living in the moment. But, also, it taught me about about healthy living.

Here is what I learned from having someone with cancer in my family:

1. Hug your close ones properly when seeing and leaving them.

Hugs are a wonderful way to express affection. Hugging shows that you care about a person and that you support them through the good times and bad.

However, you hug your crush or your lover differently than you hug a friend or family member. Here are some tips on the best ways to hug the people that you care about very, very much.

>>> Go up to him/her and give a genuine smile.

>>> Embrace him/her. Continuing to talk while hugging is okay. Where you place your hands is not important because the person you’re hugging won’t think it over too much.

>>> Press gently. You don’t necessarily have to have a very hard contact.

>>> Stroke your hands quickly across the top of the other person’s back.

>>> Be welcoming when you hug. If either of you requested the hug, then make the person you’re hugging feel safe. Act as though the two of you are the only people who matter at the moment.

>>> Avoid hugging the person too tightly. The best way to judge how tightly or loosely to hug is to let whomever you’re hugging indicate what they want by how hard they squeeze. If they are soft, be soft back; if they like bear hugs and squeeze tightly, hug back the same way.

>>> Hold the hug for a moment before letting go. A hug is a powerful way to communicate that you care for another person, as it can feel great and improve the other person’s mood. Ending the hug too early may make both of you feel awkward.

>>> Smile when you let go.

2. Be grateful for each conversation with your loved ones and engage in it with all your heart.

We never know when it will be the last talk with our loved ones. Therefore, do not waste any of your conversations with your family or close friends. Engage your whole heart in all of them. What do I mean with that?

Be honest.

Brutally honest. Say what you think. What you feel.

This is not easy all the time. Not for me, not for you. But, this is the only way to truly connect with our family and friends. We often sacrifice expressing our true thoughts and feelings for the sake of politeness. There’s something very authentic, and surprisingly charming, about being completely honest.

You can quickly take conversations to a deeper level by saying things like:

“I’m not a big talker, but I like listening.”

“I’m really proud of that.”

“This feels awkward.”

“That hurt my feelings.”

Even one authentic admission quickly builds intimacy because honesty draws people in and makes them let down their guard.

Be curious.

The quality of curiosity is highly attractive, and it creates immediate interest and intimacy.

Put yourself in the mindset of being curious to learn more about the other person. You’ll listen more intently, your body language will show that you’re engaged, and you’ll naturally think of questions that move the conversation forward.

Ask why instead of what.

This is a twist on asking open-ended questions. Instead of just asking about the facts, ask people why they made certain decisions. Hopefully, this results in an interesting conversation in which you learn a little more about what makes the other person tick.

Here are some example questions to take a meaningful conversation further:

“Why was this the best part of your week?”

“Why does that make you feel really happy?

“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room and why?”

“If you had a 10-year-old son, what would you tell him were the three most important things in life? How about a 10-year-old daughter?”

“If you only had 48 hours left, how would you spend them?”

What questions work for you? Or what questions have worked in the past to connect and engage with all your heart in a conversation?

3. Eat and drink brutally healthy.

Recently, I found my new inspiration in the New York Times and Amazon best-selling author, wellness activist, and cancer survivor Kris Carr.

She documented her battle against epithelioid hemangioendothelioma in her documentary film, Crazy Sexy Cancer and wrote the New York Times bestsellers, Crazy Sexy Diet, and Crazy Sexy Kitchen. She shares her experiences and reflections through blogs and videos about health, happiness, spirituality, plant-based living and all things Crazy Sexy.

I decided not to trade my health for anything, especially not people pleasing or being nice by accepting anything that is offered to me (such as tons of chocolate bars).

Will you, too?

If so, check out Kris’ or other health experts’ recipes for green smoothies, healthy breakfasts, lunch and dinners. It’s already changed my life, when only starting to add a glass of lemon water and a variety of smoothies to my diet each morning.

I am looking forward to your experiences with a new healthy lifestyle in 2016.

4. Reconcile with your loved ones before going to sleep.

As my Mum advised, reconcile arguments before going to sleep. Sleeping on problems cause them to go dormant, not disappear. That’s it. Let’s leave it that simple and take it as a mantra for this year.

As always I am interested in your opinion.

If you liked my post, let me know. If you did not like it, too. I am curious what you think of my learnings.

Tell me if you have similar or different experiences within your family and with your friends.


Relephant Read:

Fill your Heart with Love Today: RIP David Bowie.


Author: Kathrin Kaddi Alexa Hahne

Assistant Editor: Elizabeth Brumfield / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Flickr

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