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Compassion Works Both Ways

This morning I was sitting on my couch at home, computer in hand working from home. My youngest daughter is sick. As I work, my oversized miniature schnauzer named Buddy comes to lie next to me on the couch. He hasn't been shaved all winter, and is quite hairy now. I'm thinking he really needs a trip to the groomer for a shave and a bath.

So I call Laurie, who owns and operates a small dog grooming business near my house. I have known Laurie for a number of years now, as she's the only one who has clipped Buddy (and seems to be the only one who can handle his delicate little personality). Laurie knows my story, and my journey with breast cancer. She has provided a sympathetic ear, and support for me whenever I see her.

Today it was my turn. Her mother's cancer has returned, and she's too weak to withstand any further operations at this point. She has been spending a lot of time with her mother, providing support and care. She has rearranged her schedule in order to do this, which makes the days she is working quite long. According to Laurie, her mother is in a very positive mindset, which, as I've always said, is half the battle. Laurie sounds like she is in that same positive mindset as well, which is equally important.

Today I would like to pay tribute to all those who supported and were with me during the hardest of times. They took time out of their busy schedules to bring me a care basket, or visit me when I was recovering from surgery, and came with me for one of my chemo treatments. They didn't have to do it, but they did.

But compassion works both ways. There are many people that are supporting friends and family, or who have a close friend or loved one who is suffering from cancer. Not everyone knows how to handle it, or what to do. Some are even scared. What if I got it?.........., they may think. Another's sickness provokes the fear in them. Some people have such a fear of hospitals that they can't bring themselves to visit a sick friend. It creates a snowball effect, because then they can't call that person later either, as they feel embarrassed.

Whether you are a patient battling cancer, a survivor who has moved on, or simply a friend or family member who has supported someone in the past, it's important to think of these caregivers and supporters in your life as well, with empathy and compassion. There are moments that the ones being strong are also the ones in need. Take the time to sit down and talk to them. Ask them how they're feeling. Give them a hug. Indirectly you could be making a difference in a cancer patient's life.


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