I re-read the online invitation I received. It wasn’t an invitation anyone hopes to get. There was no ‘shhh’ finger-to-lips graphic, no indication of umbrella drinks, not even a hint of fun food.
There was, however, a beautiful photo of a radiant young woman with three young boys.
It seems a fundraiser is scheduled for someone I know, someone who is a colleague and friend. It has been a few months since we connected and this was the first I heard of her news.
My heart skipped a thump as my eyes re-scanned the text. The words took a moment to register in my unaccepting mind. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
A small business owner and active business leader throughout much of the state, she has needed to curtail her activities, for obvious reasons, thereby curtailing her income, too.
It must have hurt to cut back on the passion that drives her in business and her usual accompanying dizzying schedule. What must hurt more is knowing she has three young boys to raise alone, while looking into an uncertain future, financially or otherwise.
No one ever thinks someone else will get cancer. When that someone is young, vibrant and churns out whirlwind energy that leaves the rest of us panting several hundred paces behind, it shocks something in our soul.
My soul was most certainly shocked.
The invitation said something about us needing to help someone who routinely and unselfishly gives so much while helping all of us. Yes, yes, that’s what we need to do. Give back. Even though the monetary giving back seems paltry in comparison to how much we’d like to help in a more vital way.
But that’s not our role. We can only stand by the sidelines and watch while leaving that role to her healthcare team- nurses, doctors and everyone else it will take to battle the battle inside. We trust them to fight this battle for her in the way the rest of us can’t.
Coincidentally– or not– the email I opened immediately prior to the invitation was an interview outlining the importance of the oncology patient and provider relationship. I want to ask her if she’s happy with her healthcare team that is taking care of her. I want to know that she likes them, trusts them and respects them.
It’s none of my business, really, yet I want to be assured. I write this knowing it’s not my assurance that matters.
I think back to friends and family who have fought the battle. Many won. Some did not. I remember how most raved about their nurses and doctors and techs who traveled with them on their roller-coaster journeys.
What a difference they made. Not only to their patients, but to their patients’ friends and family, most of whom they never met. They left legacies, unaware.
In whose life will you leave a legacy today, whether or not you ever read of it in print?
This article originally appeared in NurseTogether.com. Published with permission.