A lot has happened in the last week or so. When I say a lot, I mean with me. First, my dream of a degree from a 4 year college has been altered – there will be a sojourn to a community college first, which will begin this summer. I will still get my degree in social work, and I will still be a professional patient advocate, but the road had a clover leaf inserted. So lesson one – kids, go to college out of high school! Having 33-year-old transcripts causes all sorts of new problems that you simply do not want to have to deal with.
Second, I returned to Curing Cancer With A Smile. Now, I’ve never stopped being supportive of Mike Terrill, whose terminal fight is winding down (that’s a whole other subject). But upon my return, I found not the thriving page I left in September, but rather a ghost town. Few posts, fewer responses. Over 1300 members with nothing to say. When I was in the group before, I would wake in the morning to have 25 notifications for overnight posts. Not so now. So I started trying, and I shall keep trying unless I am asked not to. The premise of CCWS is amazing – simply a place to go. With the wonder of the internet, you don’t even have to be geographically in the same hemisphere to be together in a place of support, camaraderie, and friendship. I will work to get this back, which leads me to this blog.
Support. What does it mean to you? Does it mean having a good bra that fits right and keeps the girls where you wish they would be without it? Is it that intricate web of elastic that keeps your family jewels from injury? Is it that velcro, vinyl and steel contraption that keeps your ankle, knee, wrist or back a little more secure? Is it your best friend who doesn’t mind being on the phone with you at 2 am while you slowly implode? Is it that Facebook friend, that you have never physically laid eyes on, who is always there with a witty comment to take you out of your funk for a while? Is it the deposit in the bank account from your ex spouse? It can assuredly mean all of these things. But what defines support for YOU?
I’ll tell you, when I started in CCWS, I knew it was a cancer support group. So, even though I do not have cancer, I went about “supporting”. A kind word, an offer of assistance in researching options, a cyber shoulder. I never stopped doing that, and discovered an aptitude for it that blossomed into my desire to make it a late in life career. I continue to support my friends – and also as an admin in the cancer group, Zippy’s Big Fat Cancer Chat. Even the simple act of clicking “like” – it shows support. It shows you read the post, and you acknowledge its content.
Now for the biggie. SILENCE SHOWS NO SUPPORT. The fact that your name is on a member list means nothing. It means your name is on a member list. I know you are busy. I have 18 hour days as a regular part of life – and I’m adding full-time college student to my repertoire. Skip one game of Candy Crush. Your Bejeweled Blitz score is high enough. That video can wait 2 minutes. If you belong to a group – read some of the posts. A couple of minutes of your time, and suddenly you will get to know the people there. You will realize that you and a couple other members have spouses with illnesses. You will learn that you are not the only person on earth who drinks coffee from dawn to starlight. You will learn that you matter to people you have never met. “Oh, but I don’t get involved” says you. Fine. Click like a couple of times. Acknowledge the presence of another. You don’t have to spend 20 hours a day in the group, constantly refreshing the screen hoping for a new post. But if you are in a support group – you are either there because you need support, or you are willing to support. But, Margie, says you, I’m only here because my friend put me in here. Fine. Look around. See if there is one post that strikes a chord with you. Something you can relate to. Go from there. Sitting silently on the sidelines, not even liking any posts, and the assumption is you aren’t reading or looking at anything – which may be the case. But, like your Mama told you, you don’t know if you like it til you try it!
Am I advocating daily visits? No. If you have the time, of course. But you don’t have to like every single post. You won’t like every single post. You don’t have to check in daily. But do check in. Especially in a cancer support group like Curing Cancer With A Smile or Zippy’s Big Fat Cancer Chat – for all the fun, laughs, and camaraderie, there are people dying. Literally. Don’t wait for the “after the fact” post – let them know you are thinking about them NOW – while they are HERE. Their families read these posts too – let them know they are not going through this Hell alone! A simple click of like – the same as here on WordPress – shows you read the post or comment. It shows that you acknowledge it. That you SUPPORT the writer. It’s not brain surgery – it’s a click of the mouse. Who knows? A couple clicks may just lead to a comment. Which may just lead to a *gasp* post. All of which will lead to YOU being a better person, by acknowledging compassion for your fellow-man. See???? WIN/WIN!
Lets do what no doctor can do – let’s make these patients, these caregivers, these other supporters, realize that each of them are unique, and there are those out there who care. It’s not hard. Its cheap. And it has benefits beyond your wildest dreams.
Thanks for your time in reading this – if you so desire, hit the “share” button.