what to say to someone who has cancer

I’ve been asked this question a number of times and thought it would be worthwhile to post something about it since it is a life-relevant topic that someone might search for on the internet or might simply be wondering just in case a situation occurs.

I want to preface this by acknowledging that everyone is different and what I think would be thoughtful and/or appropriate may not be to someone else. I also want to add that unless you’ve gone through the same exact situation (even cancer experiences differ), there really isn’t anything that would/could alleviate the matter.

  1. Try to understand the person’s personality and situation: Is he/she sensitive? emotional? reserved? Is he/she young/old, with/without children? Is he/she currently in a distraught state? acceptance state? hopeful? in denial? etc. Knowing the person’s personality and situation can help determine what to say and not say. Don’t go about saying things that you would like to hear, but put yourself in the other’s personality. For example, if you are an emotional person but the person who is diagnosed is not, it doesn’t help to try and console using emotions.
  2. Ask how they’re feeling. What’s been on their minds/hearts. But do so with discretion. Sometimes the diagnosed may not want to share, and again, knowing the person’s personality helps. Sharing may be burdensome or overwhelming. But some may appreciate being heard.
  3. (For believers) You are praying for them, and praying. This has been the most meaningful to me because people I personally never knew or met have come to me to share that they’ve been praying for me. And this has been the most uplifting because I know that God is listening, and to know that I’ve been in someone’s thoughts and prayers simply means a lot, especially because I know that everyone is going through their own troubles in life.
  4. (For unbelievers) I would share that I love him/her, that God loves him/her. And because God loves him/her, I need to share the gospel, even if it may seem unwelcome. Sharing the gospel and my testimony seems like the most loving thing a believer can do. I guess a non-believer may think, “If God loves me, why is this happening to me?” and this could be a good segue into sharing why there’s suffering in the first place–another segue into the gospel.
  5. God loves you. The reminder is heartfelt and brings me to tears almost always. To know that our almighty God loves me and knows my suffering is the most comforting. He is the only one who knows my heart, my burdens, my worries; He hears my cries, sees my tears, feels my pain, knows how much it hurts, how tiring everything can be.

It’s been 3.5 years since my diagnosis. The hardest has been my first year. It was spiritually, emotionally, and physically the most difficult; I felt the most vulnerable and distraught. Year two had its ups and downs. Year three has come with some peace, maybe because I have been stable for the most part, but I have also come to terms with death. During my first year, I felt as though I was given a death sentence and I would soon be separated from everyone I loved. Now… well, it’s still heartbreaking, but I also long for heaven where there is no more suffering. (Oh, how I long to be completely healed! Physically and from sin). A period of time would pass until Christ’s coming, a period of time which I would not be aware, and I would wake in a moment to see those I love around me (so I desperately pray for my daughter’s salvation), and it would be a time of celebration. Everything will be perfect and there will be no more pain.

To those who have been diagnosed and to those who have loved ones who are diagnosed,

God loves you and there is hope in Christ.

My Marathon

Some run a 100 meter dash, many others run a marathon. Maybe I was meant to run the 100 meter dash — living life fully for a short amount of time. But maybe I don’t want to run the 100 meters; I want to run the marathon with everyone else.

My 100 meters are up and I stumbled from starting too fast. My hands and knees are scraped, I twisted my ankle. I didn’t wear sunblock so my skin is burning. I didn’t eat enough so I’m already without energy. My nose is running constantly. I wasn’t in shape to run the marathon in the first place and I didn’t train for it either. But that doesn’t matter. I still want to run the marathon.

I’m running with my injuries and disabilities. Everyone is fit, or at least not injured, and running with obstacles that come with the journey: uphills and downhills, curves and uneven pavement. Of course, some trip and fall, some give up or walk, and some seem to prance along in their fancy shoes. But in the end, don’t we all struggle to catch our breath as we near the finish line?

I’m 1/3 of the way, I hope. I’m limping and bleeding, coughing and wheezing, my nose is running, my skin is burning, muscles aching; but I’m running alongside others because I want to finish the 26 miles. When those around me look to see how I’m doing, I smile reassuringly. My family has been my crutches, my daughter pushes me along, my friends have provided water, food, towels, and have cheered me on. And I am so thankful.

I wonder though. Can I make it or will I end up with the ones picked up by the truck for those who couldn’t finish or will I end up with the emergency response team?

For now, by God’s grace, I’m still running.

Happy Christmas!

love, Yohan, Jeanee, & Elaine

“For God so loved the word, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

Gift Guide: for the comfort and self-care loving female in your life

I started reading advent stories with my daughter yesterday (since it was Dec. 1) and now that she’s older, she appreciates the stories and understands the reason for Christmas with more awareness. We have been using the Jesus Storybook Bible for reading since she was a baby, but I recently discovered they have an Advent calendar reading plan and some printable coloring pages available for free online. Here is the link. It was so funny because the introduction starts with the question that asks the child, “What do you love most about Christmas?” and my daughter immediately responded, “Presents!” and the book continued, “Most of us say, PRESENTS! And all the grown-ups will laugh and want us to say something more spiritual.” Haha, I was laughing and thinking the same thing. The introduction continued, “That IS the best, most important thing about Christmas. Because, you see, Christmas is all about a present—a gift. The greatest, most magnificent gift there has ever been…”

With the daily reading and reminder, my daughter has been preparing gifts to give others as well by drawing something for everyone she knows. It’s fun to watch her thinking process and how she goes about her plans. I say she gets that trait from me; I love drawing and planning, and it’s no surprise I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping!

And for all the planners out there, here is a short list of practical gifts for the female person in your life that likes comfort and self-care. This is a funny list because most of the items are great for moms and grandmas and they are things I already own, tried and true items–things that I would 100% recommend because they’re really good compared to other products from different brands. I am a grandma, so I should know. ;)


  1. HUE Women’s Hidden Cotton No Show 4 pack socks: $11.20. I’ve tried so many no-show socks from so many brands, but these are the ones, ya’ll. There’s one at Macy’s that’s not cotton but a nylon-type material and it does not fall off your feet even when you’re taking off your shoes (which happens all the time with no-show socks)! They’re amazing and comfortable.
  2. Sweese 2102 Porcelain Tea Mug with Infuser and Lid, 15oz.: $18.99. Practical in design so that you can rest your tea infuser, then cover the mug when you’re not drinking the tea. Brilliant! And it’s a large size. There are 7 other colors available.
  3. WarmCrystal, High Borosilicate Glass Teapot with glass infuser set and lid (20oz): $17.99. I love a good teapot.
  4. Real Simple 1-year magazine subscription: ~$18 I love magazines about home-making and lifestyle. Other options: Martha Stewert’s Living, Better Homes and Gardens, The Magnolia Journal (quarterly issues), Parents.
  5. Hanyul: (a) Face Moisturizing Cream $19.99, (b) Rice Essential Skin Moisture Cream $34.76 : Like the “no-show socks”, I have been on a long journey trying to find the perfect moisturizing cream. It had to be moisturizing enough so that I didn’t have to apply it every 30 minutes and it had to be very gentle so that it didn’t sting (because my face is extremely dry and sensitive). I’ve tried many brands from varying prices and although I have found a few others that work just as well as the Hanyul cream, Hanyul beats them all because it works so well and it won’t break the bank.  Other brands that have worked for dry, sensitive skin:  Sulwhasoo products (I used their lotions and essence and they are excellent. I heard this serum is liquid gold; I’d recommend it to gift mothers) and La Mer products. But again, they’re pricey and Hanyul has great results for such a good price.
  6. Crabtree & Evelyn 6-piece mini hand lotion gift set: $16.99 I purchased this set to gift because it’s an essential, everyday item that people like teachers, nurses, and people whose jobs require them to wash their hands constantly would appreciate. I always carry around hand lotion and I would assume almost every female I know does too.
  7. Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over Coffee Maker ($16.94) OR this one ($14.97): This one is especially for my mother who breaks every coffee-making related product made of fragile material. In the past two years, she has broken 2 ceramic pour-over coffee makers and 2 glass French press coffee makers. This Christmas, I am getting her this one made of stainless steel! If she somehow breaks this, I… can’t.
  8. Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly: $28. This product absorbs well unlike other lotion/moisturizing products that have creamy consistencies and sometimes sits on top of my face or leaves a white streak/residue. I use this product throughout the day when I need a quick touch-up on dry spots and they also sell a smaller tube so that it can fit in small purses so that you can carry it around everywhere.
  9. Chocolove Salted Almond Butter in Dark Chocolate Bar (2 for $5) OR the Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups ($1.99). I found these at Sprouts, but I’m sure you can find them around your local Whole Foods-like grocery store. I’ve been trying to consume dark chocolate instead of other sweets to satisfy my sweet tooth, and since I’m always low on magnesium and it just so happens that dark chocolate and almonds contain magnesium, it seems too good to be true that I can eat “candy.” They also taste amazing–much better than Reese’s peanut butter cups. *gasp* (and I love Reese’s peanut butter cups)
  10. UNIQLO’s Heattech extra warm scoop neck shirt: $19.90. Great for PJs, great for loungewear, great for yoga because it’s clings to the body instead of sliding towards your chest during downward dog and other upside down exercises, great for layering under sweaters on cold days, great for wearing by itself on slightly chilly days. Great great great. Can’t find anything else like it.
  11. Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb: $48. Moderate price for eye cream that thoroughly moisturizes, is lightweight, and doesn’t sting the sensitive skin around your eyes. Again, my skin has become so sensitive that products I used to love, e.g., Shiseido’s eye creams, cause too much pain now. Also, I think Belif’s Moisturizing Eye Bomb carries more product than other eye creams, so it lasts longer.
  12. InnoGear 200ml Essential Oil Diffuser: $21.99. I didn’t think I’d be an essential oil-user, but I tried it and have enjoyed using it while sleeping. Certain oil-combinations have helped with lessening stress/anxiety.
  13. UNIQLO plaid flannel pants: $14.90. During warmer seasons, I like to wear these, but my sister thinks they look like elderly-country-women (Korean ahjumma) pants and refuses to even try them on despite my testimonies of them being the most comfortable pants in the world! haha. Well, here are flannel ones that look more “hip” but still has the elastic waistband and wide legs, so they’re a thumbs up from me.
  14. Oral-B Black Pro 1000 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush Powered by Braun. $39.94. We own the Philips Sonicare ones, but the Oral-B electric toothbrushes have great reviews and they are also on sale.
  15. Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery: $24.99. For those who misplace everything and never know where to look.
  16. Essential Oils: $15.95 for this set. Other than the basics that you’ll need, I have been loving the vanilla oil from Gya Labs.

There you have it: the ultimate comfort and self-care loving person’s gift guide.