Maybe you have heard this phrase before: cancer kind.
A friend said it to me in reference how well those with cancer are treated, wherever they go.
As a person still undergoing treatment for cancer, whose hair has yet to return, I can verify this is a phenomenon.
Countless times people have been cancer kind to me, especially when out in public. Upon seeing my bald head, folks have offered me their space in a long line, they have gone out of their way to allow me a clear path in jammed grocery store aisles, they have offered their condolences in hopeful smiles, have offered me help in all ways, because, in our society, we are kind to those who appear seriously compromised.
The first few times I experienced the overt kindness, I was somewhat confused as I hadn’t been the recipient of such over-the-top helpfulness or kindness in the past. Before cancer, I had been a regular schmo, living in a regular world of simple politeness or general indifference. Now, I come home and regale Garry of the amazing kind people I come across in my day.
[Tweet “Let us remember our own private suffering when confronted with the opportunity to be cancer kind.”]
Of course, forgetting that I was being treated for cancer, forgetting that I was bald (this phenomenon has lasted from the moment we shaved my head), made me temporarily believe a shift in the Universe had happened and folks were simply getting their kind on.
I’d come home, pass by a mirror and suck in my breath in surprise: I’m bald! That explained everything, which always left me sad that folks were going out of their way to be kind to me, yet on a normal, fully-haired day, the kindness meter would definitely be dialed down.
What about those who are ill, yet you can’t see their illness? What of those who don’t have a pop-culture favored affliction? Why aren’t we extending cancer kind to the mass of humanity?
It’s easy to love on those whose infirmities present themselves as such, it’s easy to offer kindness because our sympathies are entangled with them, but I proffer that we offer kindness without strings attached, without judgement; offer cancer kindness to all.
Today, my hair is on its way back. I have a 5 o’clock shadow on my previously bald dome. As the days dwindle that I will be offered cancer kind, I know I will miss the sweet kindness of strangers based on the simple fact that they cared based on my appearance, yet have learned a valuable lesson in offering my own kindness, no matter a demonstrated ailment.
We suffer in ways that are silent and mute to the world, all of us. Let us remember our own private suffering when confronted with the opportunity to be cancer kind to those we meet along the way, so that we too may be a vessel of unexpected love for those who need it most, which, you know, is everyone.