The good news about my life is I have fantastic people around me. So fantastic in fact that they are selling “positivity bracelets” in my honor at two local stores.
So yesterday, having one of the worst physical days in a while, I had to go to the imaging department to get an x-ray. I’m standing there, feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, and the sweet, bright-eyed woman at the desk looks at me and says, “Hello! Welcome to imaging. Can I have your name and date of birth?”
I looked at her and thought, well I’m glad she’s got a smile on her face. It makes the pain in my heart just a little less hard to bear. Then I answered her with my name and my birth date. She then shrinks up her shoulders and giggles a little and says to me, “Oh my goodness. You do NOT look that old!”
Now mind you, this is the visual of me at that moment: sweat pants and t-shirt, no boobs, no hair, hat on my head, glasses, chills, fever and body aches– and about 9 years of cancer battling on my emotional shoulders. In other words, I look like hell. But this girl–I tell you, she wasn’t a faker. Her face was genuine. Her demeanor was real. She actually liked her job–I could see that. Plus, there were so many things she could have said. She could have said, “okay Ms. Paige, have a seat,” just as easily. There was no need to fill a void of verbal space by throwing fake compliments my way. It’s a busy clinic–I was about to sit down. But then she–I’ll call her K– said that–and I could have cried.
I pulled off one of my positivity bracelets and passed it on to her. I said, “You don’t know how much that one tiny little comment just balanced some of the junk I’m dealing with in my day.” I explained the point of the bracelet–you buy them in a pack of three and you pass one off to anyone whose random act of kindness makes you feel just a bit better. And as luck would have it, the color I’d purchased also matched K’s outfit…
So to K–and to all the people who work in hospitals and imaging centers across the country and around the world: you will never know how much your simple smile, your upbeat attitude, your knowing glance or your tiny bit of extra kindness means to those of us trudging through the crap of cancer. Sure you do it every day. Sure you see us in various stages of grumpiness, irritation, exhaustion and just plain anger at being shoved down a road none of us ever thought or expected to be on. It must be exhausting for you to do what you do every day–see the sad ones in life–and not want to ditch your job and go work at a salad bar or a coffee store where people are just wondering whether they should add tomatoes or an extra shot into their fun, foaming latte.
But for all of us on the other side of your desk, I want you to know that who you are and how you smile and show up for us patients matters. It matters BIG TIME.
And if you ever wonder if you make a difference in this world wonder no more–
because you do.