One kind word

Cancer Blogs, Inspirations — By on May 17, 2009 at 8:32 am

marthaflower“One kind word can warm 3 winter months”  – Japanese Proverb

The other day I picked my 8 year old daughter up from school to take her for her annual physical.  She was in the cafeteria eating lunch, and after I located her I was rushing her along so we wouldn’t be late for the appointment. Just as we were exiting the cafeteria one of my daughter’s classmates ran up to me, tapped me on the back, and with an earnest expression of caring asked, “Are you better yet?” To which I replied, “Yes, I’m much better, thanks for asking.

“This little girl’s tender gesture of concern caught me off guard – in a good way.  And her sweet words have lingered  in my thoughts for several days now, warming my heart with each remembrance. She happens to be a member of the Girl Scout troop my daughter belongs to, and for which I was one of the leaders the previous year, before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2008.

About a month ago, all the girls in the troop wrote get well cards and sent them to me, just as I was finishing up chemotherapy – yet another unexpected act of kindness which helped carry me through difficult days of treatment. I would not wish the experience of cancer on my worst enemy.  And yet, even in the midst of so much challenge, trauma, anguish, fear and uncertainty, I must admit that I have been equally overwhelmed by the countless demonstrations of kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity shown to me over the past 8 months.

These loving actions have been just as life changing as the diagnosis of cancer. William Wordsworth wrote “The best portion of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”  And I believe this to be true.  I know firsthand how a well timed smile, touch of the hand or encouraging word can soothe and transform the most painful moments – turning around a day – perhaps even turning around a life.  And I know also, that even the experience of cancer cannot rob me of the good pleasure of returning these “little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love” to others.  If anything, it has taught me of its importance.

I am a mother of 2 wonderful children, and a grateful breast cancer survivor. I spent 20 years working in the field of social work. Currently I am spending time with my children, writing and singing music, and contemplating the next fork in the journey. I also have a line of t-shirts with inspirational messages which you can find at Positively Stated.

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  • Navida Stein says:

    Thank you for these lovely thoughts. I know the saying is now commonplace and found on bumperstickers and coffee mugs, etc. but “practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” still change the world, one exhange at a time. To be the receiver of these acts or the giver, doesn’t matter – I try to experience one each day – like a multi-vitamin for my soul. I look forward to your next installment!

  • Emily Vassar says:

    Martha, you are such an inspiration to me! Your strength and great courage inspire me to move slowly enough to see the little acts of kindness all around, and also to make it a daily purpose to give them away. I’m inspired every time I wear one of your t-shirts. I’ve been wearing either “See Beyond the Seen” or “Defeat Defeat” for my daily morning walk. It’s so interesting how, along with prayer and meditation, wearing those words first thing in the morning has become my centering, calming ritual and helps me start the day with mindfulness. They’ve been a gift to me … as are YOU, my dear friend!

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