We heard the elderly couple express their fears of administering an oral chemo at home to their dog, Dixie. Their concerns centered around one theme: What if something goes wrong?
We heard them tell the oncology resident about Dixie, about how she literally saved their lives from a burglar and how she, as his farm-hand, saved him from a charging bull.
We heard them explain how she’s their baby, how their kids are grown, but she’s everything to them.
We, of course, were already wrecked at that point, and hearing their worry pour out touched my heart. When the resident walked away, we jumped in. We explained that Emmett was on an oral chemo for over a year, and we shared our experience. They asked us how we get him to take the pills–because Dixie is picky about pills–and we said we give him his worst one shoved inside a large marshmallow every day. They asked us if we subscribed to a veterinary journal about cancer. We don’t, but they said it was invaluable and pulled out a file with marked-up, highlighted articles. We chatted some more and discovered that they live in another part of Bloomington, the opposite side of town from where we are. Before we both got pulled into exam rooms, they asked for our address so that they could send us information about that veterinary journal.
Our appointments ended at the same time, and we parted ways at checkout.
A few days later, John went out to get the mail and came back with a photocopy of the latest issue of the journal along with a note and a reply card so that we could mail it in to start a subscription.
That gesture–the couple going through the effort of photocopying the magazine, then driving it with a reply card all the way across town–that kind gesture perfectly reflects the tremendous kindness that accompanies cancer.
The kind messages and emails that we’ve gotten…
The tremendous outpouring of support for the eBook I launched last week…
The tips and tricks from others who have been through the same diagnoses…
The support, the unending positivity, the kind words, the wishes for light and healing and peace…
If you’re someone who turns on the TV or looks at the internet or reads the paper or posts on Facebook–that is to say, if you’re a human alive in 2015–it’s easy to get bogged down in negativity and fear. Because those are the stories that get told. Day in and day out, watching all that negativity unfold, it’s easy to become negative. To become fearful and disheartened at the behavior of other humans.
There are so many horrible aspects to cancer, whether it’s you experiencing it or someone else, that drain your physical and mental energy. But the constant that helps replenish what’s drained is the bottomless well of kindness that comes from friends, family, and perfect strangers.
All that negativity? It’s really just a teeny sliver of what really goes on.
What really goes on is love. And kindness. And support. And warm wishes and positivity and connection, real human connection.
I don’t think those stories are told enough, so to say thank you for all your support over the last week, I guess I wanted to share one of those stories–the lovely, thoughtful, kind gesture of nearly perfect strangers.
Thank you for your support. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your wishes and words and thoughts.