Why you need to treat others the way they want to be treated
When my 15-year-old sister Adrienne was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer, I was devastated. I was Adrienne’s legal guardian, and I had raised her from the age of eight. The following story is an excerpt from my memoir Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days.
The Support Group
Every week, Teen Impact met at the hospital. Their mission was to improve the quality of life for young adults with cancer. I encouraged my sister to attend one meeting, and she agreed to shut me up.
I told her, “We’ll walk in. If you hate it, we’ll walk out.”
We found the meeting in a large room where chairs were positioned in a circle. Many teenagers had already arrived. We sat in the two chairs closest to the door. A woman encouraged everyone to introduce themselves.
“We have new people here today,” she said.
Adrienne glared at me.
Most of the kids had leukemia. An upbeat, 16-year-old Hispanic girl had a tumor in her thigh. She sat in a wheelchair next to Adrienne.
When it was her turn, Adrienne whispered, “Hello. My name is Adrienne.”
Some kids responded with an enthusiastic “Hi Adrienne.”
Adrienne ran out of the room in tears. I apologized and left too.
Farther down the hall, I found her sitting on the floor, knees tucked into her chest, shaking, and crying.“Don’t make me go back,” she said.
I had pushed her too hard. She did not need or want a support group. I did.
Between sobs, Adrienne said, “I can’t be around other sick kids. It’s too depressing.”
The golden rule — to treat others the way we want to be treated — does not work with cancer. With Adrienne, I learned to treat her the way she wanted to be treated. When her desires conflicted with mine, I would remind myself I wasn’t the one with cancer. Adrienne was the patient, and what the patient wants is what matters most.
This post originally appeared on Nancy’s List.