How do I advise sister to offer up her suffering w/cancer

I’m not very good with words so I ask your help in how to advise my sister. Beth is a Catholic and a very, very good person who we now find out has full blown non-operatable lung cancer. She has never smoked a day in her life. She has a very good attitude and says that since learning of her condition has been truly blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit and feels at peace. She’s one of those people who never complains so I’m not sure if she’s experiencing any fears. She’s going thru chemo treatment now and I want to remind her that she shouldn’t miss the opportunity to offer up her suffering to God. I believe she can offer up for her family members or loved ones but is it proper to offer up her sufferings for her own healing. Thank you in advance and your prayers for her are very appreciated.

You need to be very careful. It sounds to me like she is doing a phenomenal job of dealing with her life-threatening health crisis.

I had a similar life-threatening health crisis, and when I received even less personal “well-meaning” advice from family members, I found it extremely offensive.

My advice? DO NOT under any circumstances give your sister such advice!!! The ONLY thing you should say to her is:

  1. how much you love her,
  2. how unfair it is that she has this life-threatening condition,
  3. how you are praying for her, and
  4. how you admire her.

PERIOD, end!

Give her your prayers, your support, and your love. But absolutely do not give her any advice as there is a good chance that you will needlessly and thoughtlessly increase her pain and suffering.

Please, don’t.

I agree…with one exception. I wouldn’t tell her that it’s unfair. I would tell her how much you love her, support her, admire her, and are praying for her.

This may be a good opportunity for you to offer up your sister’s and your sufferings.

I meant “unfair” in the sense that “it stinks”. When I was sick, I just wanted compassion from people. I wanted to hear people say “that stinks, I am so sorry that you are going through this. No one should have to.” Instead, I got a lot of people who pumped me for details about my illness and then showed visibile relief when they decided that they didn’t have what I had! (It was all about them!) :frowning: It was amazing to me how selfish and thoughtless people were (including my own family members). Thank God, my husband was a rock.

Hearing that you have cancer is like having the floor beneath your feet suddenly disappear and you find yourself hanging over a deep dark pit with no way out. Your breath seems to leave you, and you temporarily loose your senses and don’t know where to turn. At least that’s what it was like for me when I first heard “you have cancer.”

But once you have time, you have certain choices. And everyone is different.
You can turn totally towards God and leave it in His capable hands, or you can turn away from God in anger because of the illness. (There are other reactions that fit in between these two.)

Your sister is doing the first, as most Christians I know would do. I’ve honestly not yet met someone who turned away from God because they were diagnosed. Though I have been asked why **I **wasn’t angry with God.

I’m sure she’s felt numerous fears, but is also trusting God. Have you talked with her? Are you scared? It’s especially scary for family members - Mostly spouses and children, but also parents and siblings. My son had to see a counselor, and my husband went into a deep depression.

Don’t do it. That’s something she could already be doing. And it’s something a mom would say. (My mom would always tell me to “offer it up”) It would probably be better if you asked her to pray for you.

Cancer sucks. But all the people I know who have suffered through cancer, have had serious spiritual growth. And it sounds like your sister is growing.

I’ll keep you and your sister in my prayers.


Thank you all for your advice. I’ll hold my tongue and not say ‘offer it up’. Can I offer up her sufferings? That doesn’t sound right. I already offer up my whole day (thoughts, words, and deeds) for her complete healing, both physical and spiritual. Again, Thank You All.