There are so many ways of expressing care.  A quiet hug, a knowing glance, a sweet poem, a pat on the back or a touch of the sleeve, a long rambling wonderful email, flowers, comfort food deliveries, hopeful stats “there’s an 86% survival rate”, awkward silences and yes, thoughts and prayers.  It all adds up to a simple but powerful message: “I care about you!”

These past weeks have been full of outpouring care, in all forms.  Often preceded by expressions of sorrow or apologies for insufficient words.  And from this perspective, the wish-receiver, it’s sweet, touching, humbling and so appreciated.


This is a hard time for everyone including well-wishers.  It’s hard to know what to say, how to be.  So we’ve decided to ‘subtitle’ everyone who reaches out with “I care about you”, whether giving survival stats or telling us about their own aunt/mom/sister who also fought cancer. We’ve discovered that all attempts at expressing care, no matter how awkward or imprecise, are fully embraced and welcome.  Acceptance.  Courage.  Gratitude.


Some moments. 


A new colleague, in the kitchen at work, upon seeing me, slight panic on his face – what to say, what to do? “Eeh, oh, eh, hi… Happy New Year!   I mean, how are you?  Eeeh.. how are things going?”   A look of defeat and sorrow.  I’m overwhelmed with empathy and the urge to hug him.   So I say “It’s ok.  It’s fine.  I hear you!  Thanks for your sympathy and care.  It really is appreciated!”  I mean it and he looks relieved.


Family member doing internet research.  “I read that women who never had children are more likely to get breast cancer!”  Linda’s response;  “Ok, so what do you want me to do about it?”   A little late now right? 😊

But the ‘research’ is not the point.  The point is that the bad news is really upsetting, sending him to figure out his thoughts, feelings and trying to learn more.  Calling us the next day, reciting more information we already know.  But the information is not important.  Underneath all of the noise, the message is loud and clear.  “I care about you and I don’t know how to say it and this whole thing is freaking me out!”


And on the other side of the spectrum, there’s gallows humor.  Friends over for tea before chemo started.  “So, you’ve got cancer?!!  Well done!!” 😊 


Another colleague, an old-timer, at the end of a work-related video call – agenda all done.  We’re both quiet.  Not sure how to end the meeting.  A few more seconds, just looking at each other. I break the silence, “I can feel it.  I feel your care.  No need to say anything.”  Grateful nodding on the other side of the screen.  Teary eyes.  We wrap it.  Until next time.


Outpouring.  There are so many ways.  And we are not walking alone.


Previous Post

A Good Cry

Next Post

Day 10: Praise the sleep gods – and YOU

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top