A feature from one of our wonderful guest contributors, Jil Metelski.
Cancer is scary. Not just for the person with the disease but also for their family and friends. A few years ago, I became one of those friends. Having not been closely affected by cancer before, I was in unchartered territory. I wanted so much to be able to help my friend, but honestly, I didn’t know what to do.
My first thought was to make a grand gesture, hoping that in some way I could make things better. Then I thought again and figured that there were probably lots of other people who had my same idea and may have already beaten me to the punch.
You see, I’m a fixer, a problem solver, and I think what was so hard for me was that I couldn’t solve her problem. I couldn’t magically cure her breast cancer, even with my mad situation fixing skills. Faced with that reality, I wasn’t sure what to do next.
Forget about the grand gesture, the truth of the matter was that I really didn’t even know what to say. I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Fear of doing the wrong thing. Being a nuisance and interrupting her when she was resting. I could go on and on. Not only am I a fixer, I am also the queen of over thinking and over analyzing, not to mention a worrier, so you can see how my skill set was batting zero in this situation.
They say not to sweat the small stuff. Believe me, I know, I’ve read all the books. However, in the case of supporting a friend battling cancer, I realized it’s the small stuff that means the most. I didn’t have to make a grand gesture. I didn’t have to solve all her problems. I just needed to be her friend. To make those regular phone calls to chat about the things we always did. To be there to listen when she needed to vent or cry. To take her for her favorite Sonic cherry limeade when she was in town, to send a funny card or to make a special lunch or cupcakes to lift her spirits.
I didn’t have to do anything fancy or grand, just deliver little moments of support to help her make it through the day. That was something that I COULD do and that is exactly what I did.
Although I could not use my super “fix it” powers to cure her cancer, I learned that the small stuff really does matter. It fills my heart with joy to know that the small stuff (and my homemade cupcakes) helped her through her triumphant battle so she can now live cancer free.
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