You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Hats For Skid Row.
I’ve been crocheting hats these past few months, giving some as gifts to friends and loved ones, and saving the others to donate. I figured I’d give all of those to people going through chemo. But earlier today I saw this request for warm clothes for people on Skid Row, so I took a few hats from the pile and added them to some jackets, scarves and sweaters I knew could be of use.
I remember receiving a couple of lovely handmade hats at my oncologist’s office after starting chemo, and was touched by the fact the woman who made them had attached a tag with a brief message and her email address. I emailed her to thank her, tell her how much I loved the hats and also ask if she wouldn’t mind sharing the pattern with me… which she kindly did: the larger hat with the flower is based on the pattern she used.
Inspired by that experience, I felt like saying something to the people who would get my hats, so I added a little note to each one…a way to let the recipient know I cared. I’ve learned so much about the importance of acknowledging each other as human beings, regardless of our differences, and it meant a lot to me to say something.
As the note says, I make each hat with love and smiles. I hope that just as I did from the ones I was given, whoever wears them derives some comfort from what I’ve imbued them with.
Disclaimer: I do not apologize for enjoying the free scoop of gelato in exchange for the donation! Salt caramel and white chocolate…. just the touch of decadent sweetness I needed!
Excerpt from “Invisible Pain” by @DrBeckerSchutte:
1. Invisible pain is often discounted. When you don’t have crutches, or a cast, or another visible indicator of “something broken,” it is often challenging for those around you to understand the intensity of your pain. Instead of treating your pain as real and valid, others may dismiss you as “shirking” or “exaggerating.”
2. Invisible pain may not receive support. Someone with a cast on may get lots of offers of assistance. If you have progressive weakness from MS or another invisible condition, you may not be receiving that same assistance. Employers understand missing work for an X-ray, but may not understand the fatigue that follows radiation treatment.
3. Sometimes even the person suffering the pain has a hard time treating it as real. I think that sometimes we hold ourselves to even higher standards than others do. And that can mean that we push ourselves to “push through” our pain, even when we need rest and compassion.
Compassion Is Good For Your health
“That human beings have an innate instinct for compassion is not something anybody needed science to prove, of course. But research is beginning to answer one vexing question: Is compassion a fixed personality trait, locked in by nature and nurture, or can higher states of compassion be cultivated? Scientific studies suggest that we can learn to be compassionate and that compassion can even physically change the wiring of our nervous systems.”
This is from an interesting article by Larry Gallagher in the July/August 2011 issue of OdeWire
Going thru BC & feeling isolated/terrified/overwhelmed? When I did I called BC Network of Strength. They rock!! http://bit.ly/mvuG
Last July, came across NYTMagazine profile of Obama super-staffer, Valerie Jarrett, in which she said: “Overcoming adversity not only makes you stronger. It makes you more hopeful…”
My reaction (on that day in July 2009) was:
“Today not feeling hopeful. Am actually wondering how you get that hope back.
Or, should it be that when you say things like “(overcoming adversity) makes you more hopeful” you QUALIFY it?
Yes, sure, overcoming adversity can get you to a plateau higher than your previous one, so you’ve gained your confidence having lived through that.
But then, when MORE adversity comes, and it comes out of the blue and lands on you like a meteor…. it just fucking sucks and it sucks your hope away… at the very least for a while.
It’s just not that simple.
Maybe that’s part of my pet peeve of people talking about “the gift of cancer.”
To get the gift, you have to go through hell.
And then, when you’re there and you’re on this gift plateau, then great, you’ve learned more stuff, you’re a stronger person.
But you still are in pain. You still suffer.
So it’s not one or the other. It’s both. And you have to live with the deepest darkest worstest parts of it.
So yeah, it’s a great gift, but you actually have to pay for it.
scary monster photo credit