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How Can I Help a Friend or Family Member Who Receives a Bad Medical Diagnosis?

How can i help a friend or family member who receives a bad medical diagnosis, Family
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On any day you may be called upon to help someone – a friend or family member – who has just received a medical diagnosis that is unexpected and terrifying. Most of us feel completely inept in this situation. Where do you start? What do you say? What do you do? When you can’t run away from this tragedy that will affect so many and change so many lives, what – where – how?  How can I help a friend or family member who receives a bad medical diagnosis?  

Perhaps the following will be of some help and give you some guidelines as you accept your role in this disquieting and anxiety-ridden circumstance.  It is an email sent by a concerned friend immediately upon learning of a friend’s dire diagnosis:

My friend, again, I am so sorry that this frightening episode has entered your life.  I can empathize with you. I do know and acknowledge the gut-wrenching thoughts that enter your mind. Cry it out.  Put into words exactly how you feel and cry out – yes, you can scream! – to God for help.  We are asking first for the diagnosis to be better than you expect.  Then, if the dreaded is true, we ask that the best doctors agree on the best treatment and that it will start immediately.  If it is a positive malignancy diagnosis, we pray that it is the most treatable type. 

Tell God Exactly How You Feel

Tell God exactly how you feel – over and over today – until you verbalize and release all those thoughts, clearing your mind in preparation for understanding tests and consults that will fill the next few days.

God is your Father – you don’t have to clean up your words before you cry out to him.  He will carry that load for you, and blow away the negativity of fear making it rather a useful force. He will give you positive reassurance that He will be with you every step of the way.  Ask for a calm spirit, a clear mind, and a listening ear.

Leave Your Concerns With God

  • Dump it on Him – then move on to accomplishing some things you need to do today.  When you are burdened down again, get on your knees (if possible) and dump it all – again! And then again.  And again, ad infinitum.  He can handle it!  Over and over – He is a God of patience with His children!  He who says, “Come unto me all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  
  • Ask God to replace fear with assurance.  To replace emptiness with His Spirit – Despair with Hope – Weakness with His Power. May your tests become your testimony.  Ask Him to increase your understanding of all the options that will be presented to you, in order that you may find peace in your decisions.  
  • Lean on family – let them know your concerns.  You will need them.  You need to choose someone in your family to accompany you and to hear every word the doctor says, and to take notes.  Your fragile mind will likely stop hearing and freeze on one word, and you will lose the rest. This person should be present at every consultation and then follow up by guiding in discussing the options and outcomes with you later.
  • You don’t owe all of your many friends and acquaintances a detail of every option and test during the decision-making period.  But do pick trustworthy friends who are believers, who are pray-ers, who can lift you up on the dark days, and with whom you can be yourself – those with whom you don’t have to portray false strength in order to impress.  These are friends with whom you can confide. Friends whose prayer will be uplifting.  A team to undergird you. 
  • Just talk to God as you walk, or as you lie in a heap – something like: “Lord, I don’t understand why this has come upon me.  I am devastated, but I know you are God and that I am your child.  I trust you in my helplessness. So, I ask you to pick me up from this puddle of tears, give me YOUR strength, YOUR wisdom, and the gift of a sound mind in order that I may be able to navigate this road more clearly and with grace.” 

You may then want to pray something like this daily:

“Dear Lord, I cannot do it on my own, but you are my Father, my Savior, my Lord, my Strength, my Hope, and my Comfort.  I ask you to renew my spirit, continue to take charge of all this even when I am unaware, to hold me up in my weakness. I pray that I may be able to face facts with your wisdom.  And, Lord, I need you to do this every hour because without you I am a piece of putty.  You, Oh Lord, have saved me for all Eternity through your death on the cross for all my sin, and I ask you to see me through this life with your right (righteous) hand – that your love and power will uphold me, and that I may glorify you even in this darkest of days. Hold me up in your strength – I am so weak, and I feel unprepared for this new path.

“I pray for complete healing, Lord. I know you are the great Healer as well as Redeemer.  Guide my medical team to work under your authority as they plan a treatment course.  Give me grace to trust you to help me choose my caregivers.  

“Thank you for the Hope we have in you – the kind of hope that we can trust, stand on, move on, and retain composure.  And, Lord, let me know I don’t have to be strong in myself – but rather I need to let others see you in my weakness.

“Thank you for saving me by your grace.  Thank you for suffering for my eternal salvation.  You know pain, anxiety, loneliness – so you know my feelings.  I can trust them to you, Lord Jesus.  I ask you again for complete healing.  For strength in getting there.  For a peace that passes all understanding that only You can give. Thank you, Lord. I am nothing without you. Amen.”

Some scriptures of many that I find strong and meaningful are:

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:  because he trusts in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

“Cast all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7

Fear not, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed; for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, yes I will hold you up with the right hand of my righteousness.”  Isaiah 41:10

And the one that has become my favorite source of comfort and encouragement:

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  we are persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

II Corinthians 4: 8,9.

Jesus taught us to pray.  He prayed using OT scripture.  In his human agony, he prayed alone to His Father.  His words encourage us to live a life of prayer. One step at a time.  You’ve got this.  You have Jesus, the Christ, you have great doctors, you have a good mind, a great family support, a host of friends.  Not a road you would choose – but a great God who chose you to love.  His strength will get you through.

Accept Help

Oh – and do accept help as needed.  You also have a church group filled with helpers.  You will have strong support as needed.  Call me anytime you need to talk it through.  

For now, I am going to pray all of the above, but I will emphasize – “Lord, if it can be your will, let this cup pass from my friend.”  In other words, let this be a false scare, an easy fix or at least a quick fix.  Praying that it was false readings, benign tumors, or an easily treatable diagnosis.  I pray for complete healing for my friend. In the name of our loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.” 

Watch the Great News for you video on this page– for a clearer understanding of all God has done for you.  

We invite you to watch the “Great News” video on this page and find out more about God’s love for you and how you can receive forgiveness and eternal life – today!

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The Prayer of Salvation

Jesus, I don't know You, and I don't know what Your plan is for me. But thank you for coming to die in my place. I'm sorry for anything I've ever done wrong in my life. I don't understand how You could ever forgive me, but if You really would, I would like to accept your free gift of grace and complete forgiveness. Please come into my life and take control, and help me trust You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

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