After my father passed away from cancer in 2009, I sought out a volunteering opportunity where I could help those who were struggling with cancer.  I ended up finding a wonderful ministry here in Charlotte called “Hope Cancer Ministries.”  They do all sorts of things to help cancer patients and their families – drive them to appointments, deliver food, even send cards of encouragement.

I signed up to send cards.

I wasn’t sure how much of the face-to-face contact I could handle having just come off of watching my father’s body deteriorate and pass away before my eyes, but I knew I could still do something.

So every month, I bought cards of encouragement, personalized them with their name and a bible verse and sent them off in the mail.  Never knowing these individuals in person or even hearing their voices.  Just seeing their names and addresses on a computer screen.

But I knew I was doing something to help them.  Even if it was only for a brief moment, I was hopefully bringing a smile to their face or some hope to their heart.  Especially for those patients who were struggling with cancer alone and without any family or friends to support them.

I even ended up getting a nice, handwritten note back one day from one of the women I sent cards to.  She told me how much she looked forward to my envelopes in her mail and how they brightened her day.  She has since passed away, but I still have the card she wrote me – it makes ME smile.

Sure, I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and make cancer go away altogether.  Or make it so these people don’t have to go through the fear and pain of chemo and radiation.  But unfortunately those are things I cannot do.

But there is always something that I can do.

As I sat here this evening, six years later, still writing cards and sending them off, they have even more meaning… having watched my mother go through stage 4 cancer and pass away from it in 2013.  As I was filling in the cards and picturing what they might mean to the recipient on the other end, I remembered a story from my mother’s experience with cancer…

My sister had taken my mom to her chemo appointment and since she liked to have something with her to do during the appointment, like her crocheting or a book, she had a tote bag with her.  It was patterned with butterflies.

Upon checking in, my mom noticed that one of the nurses that was helping them had butterflies all over her nursing shoes.  She commented on them and the nurse told her that yes, indeed, she just LOVED butterflies.

So after my sister got my mom all settled in the chemo room, my mom asked her if she had a grocery bag in the car.  When my sister said yes she did, my mom asked her to go get it so she could move her stuff into it.  My sister did as she wished and on the way out, my mom left the butterfly tote bag for the nurse who loved butterflies.

As it turns out, the nurse had already left for the day and she didn’t end up getting it until after they had left.  But a nice, handwritten note from the nurse to my mom arrived at my sister’s house the following week – she went on and on about how much that meant to her and what a wonderful person my mother was.

Unfortunately, the card arrived after my mother had passed away so she never got to read it.

But even when she was just days away from death, undergoing chemotherapy, my mother did something to brighten someone else’s day.

Shouldn’t we all strive to do the same?

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