What Cancer Has Taught Me About Love


My friend has cancer.

It sucks.

You know what else sucks? Feeling helpless.

This isn't about that though....it is about those times when the cancer patient is acting a little...well, unlovable....and you love them anyway...and maybe even more....because dadgum...they are facing cancer, straight up, and fighting...For. Their. Life.


So here is what I have discovered about loving someone as they face (for the fourth time) the evil that is cancer.

When they are tense....you learn to pray through the moment, relax your shoulders (maybe your eyes), take a deep breath, and see their heart...not their tone (or even their words sometime), but look at...Their. Heart.

You chuckle through their pensive text messages when you know that making dinner plans with you is not the "fun" that it once was...in fact, it is probably down right annoying to them, but they do it...for you and them....because they need to spend time with you as much as you do them...and getting out of the house is more "necessary" than fun.

When you try and help, and it is not needed or wanted, you hurt for a moment, but then you put yourself in their shoes...and you are grateful once again...that so many love them and are also trying to help....and realize them not needing you THIS time...is okay. Oh...and it isn't all about you. Note to self. They are the one with cancer. Duh.

You learn that your daily drama, while important, can't be compared to what they are facing...and so you find other outlets with which to share, knowing that a day will come when you will mesh back in sync sharing all of the silly dramas of the day...today isn't that day....and that is okay....because they are fighting for their very life, and that is where you want their efforts to be...so that the silly days with them can be there in the future.

You learn that the depth of your love has no real end...you get misty-eyed just talking about your brave friend...and you realize that a glimpse of them at there worst is worth it because they are fighting to be here. Here.

Sometimes friendship is lopsided.....and that is okay. I have learned more about what true love, real love, everlasting love looks like from my friend's battle with cancer than I learned from an entire childhood. She is strong, brave, and beautiful...and that doesn't begin to note the half of it.

I have also learned more about myself...my weaknesses and my strengths.

I am selfish. I am impatient. I am needy. I have a short temper.

I have learned that I can change. I have learned that my capacity for patience is greater than I imagined. I am learning that in loving others, you learn unselfishness....you create a greater capacity for empathy in your heart...I have learned that your temper can evaporate almost instantaneously when you look at someone through the lens of your heart versus the lens of your pride. I have learned that love hurts, but that it also provides the greatest joy you can imagine...and the latter makes the former worth it. Worth. It.

Cancer sucks.

I pray for my friend and healing Every. Day. I also pray for the will of God...not just for her, but for myself that through her trials, I will learn, grow, and Be a true helper to her and others.

So...it isn't about me, but it is changing me. I hope for the better.

*I find it striking that this post came out of me on September 11th. A day that has deep meaning for me for a variety of very private reasons. There are moments in all of our lives where switches flip on (or off) due to a shift in the universe. I am learning, the older I get, that the stories that make up our lives change us, mold us, and give depth to the very choices we make...Every. Day. Should I live to be an old woman, I imagine I will sit around and share the stories that made up the quilt of my life. I will note with deep love and admiration, E's valiant battle against cancer...a battle I can only imagine will have shaped all of us that love her nearly as much as it shaped her. I will note the shift in her universe and mine that came with that very first diagnosis...and every one since...and I will talk about the growth like a proud mother displays the height markings of her children on a kitchen wall. I will note how my view of health care, women's rights, patient rights, unconditional love in a marriage, and a myriad of beliefs changed/shifted/grew out of observing her battle.  It matters. Our stories matter. That is the lesson. Sharing our stories is dangerous, scary, and yet the most important thing each of us will ever do. The truth to who we are and what we believe is weaved into the very stories of our lives. We are no longer a name or a number to others, we are a face and a heart...and that my sweet, loving, tribe of readers....is where the rubber meets the road. Our heart must lead us....and to allow that to be so is to sign up for the most dangerous ride of our life. I have bought my ticket, with trembling hands, and I am jumping on...for now that I know better...I must change how I see the world and those that live in it...they are hearts...millions of them...and they beat...just like mine.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)