It seems to be most of the people we know are relatively healthy. Our friends, family members, neighbors, and the common man you find walking their dog. What if that was to change? What if, one day, you woke up to a phone call informing you your best friend has been suffering from breast cancer? Or a close family member has discovered a tumor?
How would you feel
Would you feel comfortable going to them with your problems?
Would you feel comfortable asking for advice?
Could you vent about the days frustrations?
Would you feel ungrateful?
We often think to ourselves how difficult our life is until we meet another who is struggling even more.
Have you thought about how the individual with the disease feels?
What goes through their mind?
I have been blessed to work as a chaplain for a hospice company for several years, and the biggest sorrow expressed by the patients is the fact that their family members, friends, and strangers define them by their disease.
Those who are suffering from a life threatening illness find it difficult to try and live a normal life. Why? It's not because of their disease (although their ailment may cause certain limitations toward their health), but it's because when others look at them, they see cancer, heart failure, liver failure, or other sicknesses.
When you are blessed with an opportunity to meet, or know, someone with a life threatening disease, remember they are still alive today. That is the biggest blessing they have been given.
They were once a young man or woman; they still have hopes and dreams. Ask them about their first kiss, what they remember most about marrying their sweetheart so many years ago, or anything you've always wanted to know about this individual.
Look past the disease, and if you feel so inclined, confide in them your difficulties. They will sympathize and understand. I promise you will even surprise yourself on the wisdom and knowledge you will obtain from these wonderful people.
If the person you know with a life threatening disease is a child, ask them about their plans for the future: what do they hope to be when they grow up? What do they love to do for activities with their family? There is no such thing as false hope.
The person, whether they have seen very few summer years, or have witnessed many, still has hopes and dreams beyond what their disease is dictating in their life.
Yes, their life may be cut short because of this disease, but at least for that brief moment, their life was full of happiness, hope, and dreams - all because you took the time to look past their disease. You became their friend.