Valentine’s Day marked the two-year anniversary of my husband starting chemotherapy. He ended up finishing his twenty rounds of chemo on Good Friday 2011. Throughout his health crisis it was difficult for me to handle the suffering he was experiencing, but I forced myself to be strong. I had no choice but to be strong for our kids, but I also had to show him that I could handle anything his disease threw at us. The most important thing was for him to stay positive, so he could get well.

When our first child was born, my husband and I wrote a will to ensure our financial assets would be protected and our son taken care of by responsible parties should anything happen to either of us. We also purchased life insurance policies. We were just starting our family together, but we were realistic enough to know the possibility of death claiming one of us would always be there. When our daughter was born, we updated everything to include her. I believe having these measures in place helped to relieve me of the additional stress that would have been inflicted on me had my husband not conquered his cancer.

Anytime someone is given devastating news relating to his or her health, it’s important for the person to know there is a supportive network of family and friends he or she can turn to. The knowledge that people are there to help ease the emotional pain can be a Godsend for someone. Even a little thing such as having a trusted individual to talk to when someone feels the need to purge his or her soul, can make a huge difference in someone’s mental outlook.

Part of being able to empathize is being a good listener. Just because someone hasn’t experienced a deadly illness firsthand such as Cancer, doesn’t mean he or she can’t relate to the person suffering the affliction. As humans, it’s everyone’s responsibility to care for his or her fellow man in whatever way possible and to do that means being in touch with emotions that can be overwhelming at times.

Seeing someone you care about suffering from a terrible affliction can drain even the most compassionate, involved person. If it’s someone a person is close to, such as a spouse, parent, or child it can be extremely devastating emotionally to watch the person deteriorate. The possibility the person could potentially die can be so uncomfortable that the caretaker has to shut down emotionally to be able to survive.

The fragility of life often comes to a head when dealing with another’s disease. Being reminded that you could be in the person’s shoes can scare some people into not wanting to deal with the person’s suffering. For those people who have difficulty relating to and confronting another’s pain, there are several things to remember. Most of the time, diseases happen and the reasons can’t be explained away. People can and will end up dying despite every treatment available, so coming to terms with that by accepting it can be the healthiest road to take.

Realistically, anytime sickness is involved, there is the potential for guilt to exist. Questioning why someone is sick while the person taking care of him or her is healthy can create a myriad of problems for everyone in the situation. Resentment can build on both sides, making the sick person’s attitude turn to one of bitterness. At the same time, the healthy person wishes he or she could take on the sickness to relieve the loved one of the pain, especially if it’s someone such as a child who hasn’t lived a very long life.

In the end, what matters most is making the person who is sick feel as comfortable and secure as possible, while allowing yourself an outlet for the frustrations you will face. Sometimes it helps to cry a little every day. In addition to this, trying to keep things as normal as possible will inspire everyone to continue hanging on even in the face of terrible odds. While it can sometimes be impossible for everyone to remain positive, it’s been proven that those who remain as active as possible and possess a good attitude do much better than those who sit around bemoaning their fate.

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