Community, Community Building, Family

Weathering the Storm of a Cancer Diagnosis: Some Initial Learnings and Thoughts

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There are a few things I strongly believe in.

For example, The X-Files and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer are two of the best television shows I have ever watched and chocolate is a cure for nearly everything.

Or, that community-building at the grassroots is essential in ensuring the well-being of every single individual and that the family is the smallest unit of the community, a ‘lab’ in which we learn vital lessons applicable to society at large.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. He was very young, energetic, and a positive light in the life of all those whose path he crossed. Having a strong community of friends around the world made it easier for all of us to get through the grief and brought to light the strength of our relationships.

Now comes yet another difficult life event.

My uncle, a young man who is the father of a beautiful little girl, was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago. As anyone who has had a close family member diagnosed with cancer knows, it shakes up everything: routines are upended, roles are flipped, and the strength of relationships is tested as the best and the worst of everyone involved comes through quite starkly, perhaps for the first time ever.

His wife and I have been talking a lot about how the network of support they have built around the world over the years has tightened around them, making the family feel hugged in a snug cocoon of love. It makes me incredibly grateful for having taken the time over the years to send emails to people whose loved ones were sick; every email, even the one-liners, makes my aunt and uncle smile and feel loved; no doubt it is having a positive effect on their health.

There are also some aspects of such a diagnosis that are difficult to go through but that ultimately are for the best. Much like weak branches through a storm, the weakest of relationships tend to break during such times due to nothing more than the bond not being able to withstand the difficulties of such a diagnosis. You can fool yourself into thinking that certain connexions are strong all you want in other times; but definitely not during such times. What matters, after all, aren’t the relationships you think you have, but the ones you actually have. The person you are most comfortable with and see almost daily might not be the one that’s there for you as much as the one you are uncomfortable yet who ends up being a solid rock in the storm anchoring an entire family with the strength of their love for you.

However difficult these times are and however much I wish I could wave a magic wand and take away my uncle’s suffering, it is heart-warming to see these glimmerings of positivity twinkling here and there. I look forward to sharing them with you here, and would love to hear about any you might have seen.

Image courtesy of Chad Mauger.

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1 thought on “Weathering the Storm of a Cancer Diagnosis: Some Initial Learnings and Thoughts

  1. Make every minute count.
    Make time for a few extra minutes.
    Be strong, but be ready for the time when tenderness is what’s called for.
    Our prayer are with you.

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