Accompaniment during Cancer: A Discussion by and for Caregivers

AED “Health for All” Conference
Saint Louis University
BSC 254D
2:15-3:00 p.m.
Facilitated by Mark Chmiel

Deep Breathing
13.7 million: number of Americans with a history of cancer at the start of 2012
1,660,290: number of new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in 2013
580,350: number of Americans expected to die of cancer in 2013
1,600: number of Americans expected to die each day of cancer in 2013
2nd most common cause of death in the US

A class at SLU

Community, from The Book of Mev—A collective reading

Christian Poet John Donne: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

Scholar Barbara Hardy: We dream in narrative, day-dream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticize, construct, gossip, learn, hate, and love by narrative.

Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh: Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

Novelist Zora Neale Hurston: There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.

Paired Sharing
With a partner, feel free to explore any of the above reflections in light of your experience as well as respond to any of these questions:
Who is the person you have accompanied during his/her cancer?
Who has accompanied you during this time?

What have been some of the highs and lows of this accompaniment?
What are some of the stories you have told others about this period?

Has it been easy to talk about these experiences?
Which questions have come to you as a result of your caregiving?

Do you have any advice you’d pass on to someone going through what you’ve gone through?

Open Forum
Would you be willing to share one of your stories?
What is your response to any of the stories and reflections we have heard?

BOM 334-335

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