Have you ever spent any time in an oncologist's office? Unfortunately, I've gotten to know that particular suite pretty well in the last two years. And when I first started to go, I thought it was the most dismal, depressing place-sort of like a clubhouse for the dying.
Well, now I have a completely different perspective on that office. I've come to think of it as a headquarters for the Hope Underground. It's full of people who encourage me by their example of courage and perseverance and self-giving love in the face of suffering. They're the ones who have called me, written me, brought me fresh strawberries from the farmer's market. They've given me tips about where to find wigs and suggested tricks for making my therapies easier. They've held my hand when I couldn't laugh and talked to me when I couldn't stand to be touched.
And I've joined the Hope Underground, too-or at least I hope I have! We give to each other. We support each other. And this entire experience has taught me, more eloquently than ever, that one of the most important ways we can find hope is to bring hope to others. And one of the most hopegiving things we can do for others is to share in their suffering.
Does the idea of hope through suffering sound strange to you? It's another one of those truths that goes against the grain of our human instincts. We don't want to suffer. Nobody really wants to join the Hope Underground.
But the suffering is going to happen one way or another, whether we like it or not. You may not develop cancer, but I know that at one time or another you're going to face pain and suffering.
And when that happens, the only real choice is whether you're going to suffer alone or whether you're going to join the hopeful company of the Hope Underground.