The Key To Being A Good Link
I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 10 years ago and have been fortunate to be a part of the Sharsheret family since my diagnosis.
While I have been a link many times, I have been a caller only once. When discussing my experiences as a Sharsheret link, I have to first think back about my one call to my link and what made the conversation so good for me.
I was given the name and number of my link shortly after my diagnosis and as you can imagine, I was eager to speak to someone who had been through what I was yet to experience. When I called, I was greeted by a warm voice on the other end of the line. It had been 5 years since her diagnosis and she was cancer free and feeling great. I asked many questions and my link answered them to the best of her ability and from her perspective.
Thinking back to that conversation, it had a profound impact on my approach to my medical treatment and on my prognosis. The crazy thing is that today I do not remember my link’s name and we only spoke once. So what made her such a good link and what lessons did I take away from our one and only contact?
The key to being a good link is to be a good listener. Many of the callers that I have spoken to have wanted to tell me their story, but even more so, they have wanted their questions answered. I try to listen to what they are asking and to not give them too much information or information that is not relevant, as not to overwhelm them.
Another important aspect of being a link is honesty. There is no sense in sugar coating what might be difficult down the road. On the other hand, being honest that certain things may not be as bad as would be expected is okay as well.
Another important aspect of being a link is to not feel like you have to have all the answers. As a link, you want to be able to have all the answers but I have found that that is not always the case. There have been times where I did not have the information the caller was requesting and the best thing to do in that situation was to be honest, and recommended that they call Sharsheret to help them with those issues.
What I took away most from the conversation with my link so many years ago, and what gave me strength to face the difficulties ahead was that she was 5 years passed her diagnosis, and leading a happy and healthy life. For me to know that someone who had the exact same diagnosis that I had and treatment I was about to experience was a survivor, was of upmost comfort to me and incredibly empowering. Though I do not say these things to callers, I hope that I convey these feelings – you will get through this and hopefully be a stronger woman for having gone through these difficulties.