Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.   – Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)  

THE EXPERIENCE

We were there for Mom’s first chemo treatment.  It was a cancer treatment center.  Her visit lasted 5 1/2 hours, and the Center was busy the entire time.  People came and went through the infusion room and the waiting room.  All day, patient after patient received treatment or met with the doctor and nurses for cancer care.

Most of Mom’s time was spent in the infusion room.   While receiving her treatments, we watched as other people filled the infusion chairs around her, finished their treatments, and new patients filled the chairs.

One man comes weekly for his treatments.  He’s been receiving treatment for two years.   The woman beside Mom was receiving her first treatment.  Another woman came in who was thin, gaunt, and sickly looking.  She appeared to be fragile and weak.  When she entered the room, one of the nurses carefully escorted her to an infusion chair, handling her gently.  While receiving her treatment, she closed her eyes as if too weak to keep them open.

A man arrived who also looked sickly and weak.  He was carrying a medication pouch from which tubes emerged that were attached to him.  He was trying to smile and be friendly, but anyone could see that he was not feeling well.  Sadly, he had mistakenly arrived a day early, and no infusion chairs were available for him, so they had to ask him to return again the next day at his appointed time.  My heart went out to him for I knew that outings were a hardship for him.

Some patients kept cheerful banter with the nurses who administered treatments.  Others rested quietly, tuning out the sounds around them, not wanting to be disturbed.

The nurses and staff  were just as caring and kind to Charlie and me as they were to the patients  – probably knowing  that this new venture was as concerning to us as  it was to Mom.

While in the waiting room, I saw an elderly couple trying to make sense of the information they’d received to help them prepare for the man’s first  chemo treatment.  It was sad to me that the man would have to endure cancer treatments at this late stage in his life, but he and his wife were positive and unstressed, discussing the man’s chemo information as casually as they might discuss an antibiotic being given for a cold.  Surely they were a couple of hope and faith.

One woman’s hair was sparse from chemo.  She never smiled, had a grumpy disposition, and ended up leaving  before her appointment because she didn’t want to wait.  I felt badly for her. It was clear that cancer was taking a toll on her.

Another woman wore a headcovering over her bare head.  She was friendly and talkative with a positive spirit.

The couple beside me was also talkative, friendly and humorous – despite being there to resume treatments after the man was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer.

Some patients were accompanied by a friend, loved one or caregiver.  Others were there by themselves.  Were they alone by choice, or did they not have anyone to accompany them, I wondered.

In the corner of the wating room were hand-crocheted cancer caps, complimentary gifts from a local craft group.

 

PREVALENCE OF CANCER

We were at the cancer treatment center from 9:30 – 3:15 for Mom’s first chemo treatment.  I was amazed by the constant flow of patients coming and going the entire time we were there.  Are there really that many people battling cancer?  This was just one day of the week, in one small  cancer center in Mom and Charlie’s community.  Add to their attendance the number of patients seen throughout the week and at every other cancer treatment facility.

According to the National Cancer Institute:

  • It was estimated that in 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer would be diagnosed in the United States
  • In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States

 

BE KIND, TENDERHEARTED AND FORGIVING

Every day we are likely encountering at least one person who is battling cancer – as well as loved ones and friends affected by someone else’s cancer.

Some cancer patients are evident by their loss of hair, but not all cancer treatments cause hair loss, so others might look and act “normal.’

Some people battling cancer will be positive and upbeat , while others are visibly struggling –  but even if someone is positive and has an amazing attitude, if they undergoing treatment for cancer, you can be sure they are affected by what they’re going through.

Cancer treatments cause side effects, discomfort, and fatigue.  The medicine might alter their moods and behavior.

The emotional impact of having cancer will vary from person to person, but I feel it is safe to say, that everyone diagnosed with cancer will have an emotional reality check on some level.

Ongoing treatments are likely to wear patients down mentally, physically and emotionally.

Be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.

 

ALL AROUND US

That day in the cancer treatment center made me realize that  all around us are people facing battles of various kinds – cancer, other illnesses, family situations, financial matters,  upheavals in life, and loss, just to name a few.

Last year at this time I was making trips back and forth to Indiana to be with my dad who was struggling with complications after open heart surgery.  His life was coming to an end.  I was an emotional roller coaster, forgetful, temperamental, and couldn’t focus on tasks at hand.  It took a lot of patience and grace to be around me!  I was grateful to my family for their kindness, compassion and understanding.

In those months, when I was emotionally fragile, I was keenly aware of the smallest gestures of kindness by strangers – people who opened the door for me,  those who offered a warm welcome or kind word, or simply looked me in the eye and shared a smile.  They didn’t know I was going through a tough time, but their kindness made a difference.  It was like God working through their actions to give me comfort and assurance.

Prayers from others sustained me.  There were friends who stayed in touch to remind me they were keeping us in prayer.  Oh, what a difference that made!

Wherever you go today, seek to be aware of those around you.  If someone appears to be irritable or rude, instead of being annoyed, take a moment to consider that they might be  going through a tough time.

As you walk or drive through your neighborhood, pray for the homes you pass and people you meet.  If you feel led, leave a note or reach out to those for whom you’re praying.

All around us are people who are struggling.  A simple act of kindness might make a huge difference in someone’s day.  It might even be God’s way of working through you to share the light and love of Jesus with others.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.   – Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) 

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for all who are battling disease or struggling in any way.  Please help me to be aware of those around me.  Prompt me to show kindness, be tenderhearted, and offer forgiveness as needed, that I might bless others as You have blessed me.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.  

 

 

 

 

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