Never Underestimate The Power You Possess To Help Another Human Being

Today is one of those bittersweet days that are periodically thrown onto the path of this journey we each take known as life.

I awoke to find a message that a friend of mine had succumbed to prostate cancer. He was one of my book reviewers and despite his multi-year courageous battle with this horrible and dreaded disease, Don always remained positive and upbeat in his comments and encouragement of my writing.

Yet another message received this morning was from a post on Caring Bridge by Adrian, the daughter of friends of ours here in Cuenca, as she chronicles her journey and struggles with breast cancer. Fortunately, Adrian’s treatment and prognosis remains as upbeat and positive as she is.

I could not help but reflect on how cancer has impacted my own trek through life. My mother, father and maternal grandmother all died of it. My oldest daughter, Sherilyn, is a 14-year cancer survivor and is now pronounced cancer-free, yet her struggles continue every day from the effects of the treatment she received to combat it. She has not given up her battle, and I often wonder if I would have the same strength and courage she has shown were I in her shoes.

I found out about Sherry’s cancer when she was living in Oregon and I in Florida. I had literally just walked into our house after flying back from Dallas where I attended the funeral of one of my co-workers at Sprint who died from breast cancer. Darlene left behind a young daughter and husband. I was emotionally and physically exhausted when Sherry’s phone call came, asking if we would come out to Oregon as she prepared to undergo surgery and radiation treatment. My wife and I flew out to Oregon the next day to support her in any way we could.

One of Adrian’s comments today on the Caring Bridge website was about how it takes a village of people banding together to support someone through a battle with cancer. Her remark struck a nerve and I remember vividly how true that statement was for me. While Susan and I were out in Oregon, my colleagues at Sprint banded together to support our family in any way they could.

Much later, when I was flying back to Florida, I received a voicemail from Sherry. Her voice broke up as she left her message. I may not remember the exact words, but this is the gist of what she said.

“Dad, don’t worry that I am crying, these are tears of joy and not sadness. I just received dozens of cards and gifts from people I don’t even know but who know you and work with you at Sprint. They sent me messages of love and hope and prayers and encouragement for my road ahead.”

Sherry fastened all those cards and letters to the ceiling of her bedroom and would look at them when she was struggling to find the energy to get up and meet each day. They stayed up there for two years.

Never underestimate the power you possess to help another human being in need of love and support as they embark on their own personal journey. When we all act in concert, we become a village. Isn’t that what life is really all about?

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