Jane is a ten-year survivor of a very rare form of cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She has enjoyed several exciting careers including a librarian, counselor, teacher, and writer. She loves to write about surviving cancer, overcoming hearing loss, and her hearing ear service dog, Sita.
A heartwarming story reminds one cancer survivor about the good people in the world that sometimes feels overwhelmingly negative.
In this day of divisiveness and conflict, tragedies around the world aired 24/7 on the news and constant turmoil — we forget about all the good people in the world.
A few weeks ago I was with my service dog in a local Starbucks. She is old and arthritic, so I always have a blanket for her to lie on. A couple came in and started talking to me about her. This happens frequently and I feel it is important to educate people about what a hearing ear service dog does. I explained patiently how I received her, the agency I got her from and the tasks she does for me.
The woman then asked me “Can I give her a blanket?”
I thought I misunderstood since people usually ask to pet her or to give her a treat. I asked her to repeat the question. She answered that she made blankets for a local shelter and had one with paw prints in the car. She wanted to give it to Sita. Stunned, I answered yes and she went to the car. She returned with a gorgeous, fleece, machine-stitched blanket that was the same color as Sita’s coat. Sita immediately lay down on it and nestled in the warmth. The person would not allow me to pay her so I gave her a copy of my books, two of them on Sita. I was struck by what a small world it is we live in when I shared that I was battling cancer and she had the same oncologist I did!
What was amazing to me was the aftermath of this story. I posted her kindness on Facebook, stating that it is so good to hear about something positive. I did not use the woman’s name and told her about the post later, I would never do that without checking first. She answered that she preferred not to have anyone know about it.
This beautiful person simply wanted to do a good deed with zero notoriety. The post went further than I ever dreamed. My minister used the story as part of a sermon on giving. I received many comments and hits. The most common responses were “You made my day” and “Yes — there are good people in the world and we need to remember that!”
Then I began to remember my cancer journey. Some of the insensitive things said to cancer survivors just blow me away. I recently was stunned by a medical professional who was taking my patient history. When I stated that I was waiting for new chemo, she shrugged it off by saying “You have already lived longer than expected.” Does that mean I do not want to live longer?
However, mostly, I have been fortunate. As I look back over my ten-year cancer journey I remember the good people who have taken me to the doctor, stayed with me through nasty chemo, sent me countless cards, lifted up prayers and encouraged me to keep fighting.
I also try to be more sensitive to others. I don’t say things I thought once were Ok. One example is “I know what you are going through” (I really don’t), or “It will be OK “(Will it?), or “There is a reason for everything” (Why?) Rather I say “What do you need, what can I do or I will just sit with you. You can talk or not." Spirituality and good deeds are very real. What we send out comes back in spades. This wonderful woman, who originally wanted to help the homeless, then, gave a blanket to my dog. She set a beautiful example and was the subject of a sermon, making made a huge difference to many people.
We need to work at not getting cynical. Yes, people say insensitive things unintentionally but remember the good things too. I am reminded every day when I see my beloved dog on her paw prints blanket. There are very good people out there and anyone can be one of them.