I have spent considerable time thinking about what made the biggest difference and had the largest positive impact on me, while I was going through cancer. After much reflection and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that is was the small genuine gestures of people around me. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate EVERYTHING that was done for me……….EVERYTHING. But whether it was a phone call, a card, a gift card, a touch, a smile. It was these gestures from people who lifted my spirits when I was at my lowest.
I encountered my fair amount of people in the places I traveled, who looked at me and pitied me. Cancer patients HATE pity. We do not want pity, we want compassion. And it is palpable folks. A cancer patient can tell the difference between what is done out of pity, obligation or true and genuine compassion. When your head is bald, it is like hanging a sign around your neck saying, I AM SICK!! And there were times I wore my wig just to not have to deal with the stares, the pity and occasionally contempt. When I see someone with scant hair on their head, it takes me instantly back to those days when I was in that same boat. My heart becomes full, I know how they feel. I soften, I remember and I try to engage. I rush in to encourage and try to help them to envision a future.
So many people do not understand my passion to surround myself with cancer patients and face my demons daily. Someone has to help cancer patients and it needs to be people who love and understand them. People fail to remember that inside every body, healthy or not is a SPIRIT and SOUL. That soul is not sick, their body is sick. Their spirit is intact and very interested IN LIFE and HEALTH. They are not defined by their disease. They need you to see them not just the cancer. Look them in the eye, don’t avert your gaze. SMILE and say HELLO and engage them as you would anyone else. You have no idea that just that can be so refreshing from where they sit.
If you know someone in the fight…..call them, write them a note, bring a meal, just visit them. I still tear up when I think of the genuine gestures that were demonstrated to me when I was in the fight.
I know it is tough, I used to run away from this myself. Until my own cancer diagnosis, and having watched 3 family members die up close & personal, I ran away like my hair was on fire. I get it, it isn’t always easy to do. BUT remember……………………….
Small gestures………when we are beaten down and feeling alone in our pain/ disease, it is the powerful small gesture that elevates. It is not grandiosity that warms and connects us to others, it is small and genuine gestures of caring that bring people back from the brink.