Thursday, February 4, 2010

How Do You Break Bad News?

The hardest phone calls I ever have to make is when I need to inform friends and family about the return of the big C in my life.

It's kinda awkward, it's very sad, and it's a little bit uncomfortable. I found myself using a variety of strategies with this third round of phone calling. I know my news is going to hurt them, maybe cause them to cry and to agonize and I don't like being the instrument of the pain. I have to ask the Lord for the strength to endure this part of the testing. If I was the only one hurting, I could endure cancer so easily. Knowing that others are hurting on my behalf is precious, but hard.

At first, I just tried to casually bring it into the conversation. I asked my Mom a few lame questions, we laughed a little and then I just steered the conversation to the obvious matter at hand - the doctor's results from my PET scan. It seemed like taking the scenic view, then driving off a cliff. I felt like I was deceiving her, by starting out with good stuff to prepare the way for the bad stuff.

My Mom blessed me with her promise, "I'm as close as an airplane." I love my Mommy, I need my Mommy and my Mommy will be here when I need her. Besides, my mending basket is heaping full. This was perfect timing for cancer.

With the next few people I tried a little less floof-floof at the beginning and jumped to the topic a little more quickly. It seemed more natural, but still painful.

By the end of the list (we have big families!) I was emotionally exhausted and thought with my sister-in-laws I would try a new approach.

To Nita, "I'm sorry I only call you when I have bad news, BUT...blah blah blah." She was so gracious, and didn't rebuke me for rarely calling. She actually said, "I knew this was coming, through your writings I could see the strength the Lord has given you. I should have called you." What a beautiful, kind answer.

With the next sister-in-law, Susan, I thought I would just cut to the chase. I began with something more blunt, like mutterings, stutterings and then I said in a monotone, "I'm just going to come out and say it. The doctor just called with my test results and my cancer is back."

I knew that approach failed when she said, "Umm, who is this?"

That's right. I am supposed to introduce myself before I drop the C Bomb. We still enjoyed a wonderful conversation and her love gave me fresh courage.
Not only do I not have time to get the doctor's phone call telling me I have cancer, I don't have the ability to make those phone calls with total grace. I am even sitting here with a pit in my stomach, thinking of the many people that are precious to me that I want to call in person and break the news to. I keep having these little moments of panic because I actually forgot some very important people. I don't like people finding out through a blog or through Facebook, but since the Lord has blessed me with so many dear friends and family members, this isn't possible. Time zones also make it challenging.

It was easier when I was going to have a baby. I made a list months ahead of time with everyone we needed to call and their phone numbers. Now, I am just punting, and there is a reason why I am not on the NFL. I don't punt so well.

I keep telling myself there are no rules with cancer, but I don't always convince myself. I love and need people, they are my most important hobby.

To all you precious people who have left comments, emails or silent prayers I want to thank you and praise the Lord Jesus Christ for showing me His love and care through you. Our family continues to feel upheld, we feel hopeful, we feel peaceful. We are aware of the wiles of the devil, who would desire to cause us to despair, to fight, to sin, to doubt, to question beyond reason.

When my doctor called, I was able to let her know that my husband and I are born-again Christians and are not upset, we are taking this from the Lord. I told her all along I had only been upset about having a doctor to walk with me down this life journey of cancer, but since I found her I don't worry about that anymore. Pray for Dr. G when you pray for me.

Honestly, I hope I don't become pro at breaking bad news. I am praying for healing and wanting to never have to make those phone calls again.

But, more than anything, I want to be in the Lord's will, giving Him the glory and honor due His Holy Name. If there is anything I want to become good at, it is the Christian walk by faith and the ability to know and obey His Holy Word.

So, in case He desires to accomplish this in my life through more cancer, I guess I should start making that list of names and phone numbers like I did when I was pregnant.

Maybe I'll write a polished script so that those phone calls will come off a litte bit easier,

... a little more gracefull...

.....a little more polished...

Or maybe I'll just keep walking by faith, allowing Him to speak strength through my weakness.

Because when I am weak, then I am strong.


  1. Mindy, I am just catching up with your news. I would like to email you, but I can't find an email address anywhere on your page? I also want to mail my LID brownies to you too. so, if you can, can you send me your address via email? my address is

    I know this is all a lot. but "we walk by faith not by sight." not the sight of pet scans, so-called tumors, anything. we walk in our faith. Many, many prayers are coming to you and your family from me.

    love, Marlena

  2. Mindy,
    I lifted you and your family up again to God last night and then this morning with my daily prayers. I will also add your doctor to the list. You truly are living "when I am weak, then I am strong" -- When I read those words, I thought, what perfect words for this precious woman. I don't know why or how, but you have touched my heart. Though, already a Christian, you inspire me to be and do better.

    I will continue to pray for healing and for your family.

  3. I can honestly say I have been praying for you. You have been on my heart.

  4. You are beautiful, Mindy ---- very real.

  5. I could totally relate to this one. If it were just me going through this it would be so much easier. I hate telling people. I've always disliked creating a scene, being the center of attention, etc. I don't like asking for help. I hate it that I can't do certain things. I don't like talking about me, and when you have to break bad news you have to talk about you. I'm hoping I don't have to make too many of those phone calls. I tried to do it in e-mail to a couple of my closest friends, and I'm thinking that wasn't such a great idea. I will have to call next time.

    Love you, and good or bad, am able to relate very closely to what you are dealing with.


  6. May our Father apply His very name to your life and to the cancer that has boldly shown its face again...Jehovah Rapha...The Lord who heals....praying for you and for Him to shine the Light onto every bit of cancer. May you see His healing and may you bring Him glory with the words of your mouth.

    bless you sweet Mindy.

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted


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