The Surprise Blessing of Interviewing People Facing Cancer
(Founder of Hope Has Arrived)
When I first heard about an opportunity to interview some fellow cancer survivors for this website, I hesitated.
As I mentioned in my previous post, because of a misunderstanding of hope, I had been reluctant to get involved in the suffering of others, though my outlook is now radically different (see How Hope Multiplies).
To make sure we are on the same page, when I say, “cancer survivor,” I mean anyone who has faced cancer, not just someone who is in remission or cured. As the National Cancer Institute defines the term, “a person is considered to be a survivor from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.”
So, even though I wanted to meet these survivors, I still felt apprehensive. Would it be weird and awkward? Would reflecting on their story bring me back into my own pain with cancer? Would I feel depleted, somehow brought to ground zero again? Or would there possibly be some sort of good?
I soon found out.
During the pit of my journey, I had considered joining a support group, but I quickly found there were not many opportunities locally.
Eventually, I did connect with some friends facing cancer—one diagnosed just a few months before me and another who had faced it 10 years ago. Both connections proved helpful in their own way, which is why I was excited (and a little nervous) to meet some more survivors as I entered the cancer center on that cold December morning for the interviews.
A young woman who introduced herself as “Susie,” said she recognized me from my website. I was very surprised to find out that she and her husband were around my age. Because of HIPPA privacy, I had little knowledge about these survivors ahead of time and I had pictured them being my parent’s age—or even older.
I immediately felt at ease with Susie and her husband and even magnetically drawn to them, because they have been through the war, too. We share a common understanding, even if we have walked somewhat different paths.
They seemed like peers. She is a kind spirit my wife would enjoy, and her husband was the kind of guy I’d want to have a beer with.
Like me, they have faced some serious lows—especially at diagnosis—and later some highs, too. I liked hearing about how they kept hope alive, and how their journey has not been all negative—that somehow, they, too, have experienced positives amidst a seemingly bleak landscape.
Besides Susie, I also met a few other great people as well…
- A career-minded woman who faced cancer, but was able to keep working and living, despite the overwhelming threat.
- A thirty-something woman whose world was rocked by breast cancer, but who found hope through her relationship with God.
- A woman who has battled recurrences but possesses a hope that is startlingly real and powerful—the kind that all people facing cancer want, but don’t always know how to get.
- A man who faced a fast growing cancer that nearly claimed his life, while he and his family clung to the thin edge of hope.
I have to admit, I was surprised by how positive this experience was for me. Although physically tired, I felt emotionally full—not depleted.
Hearing these stories didn’t bring me back to ground zero. Instead, they gave me hope. Their courage gave me courage. My understanding of their pain helped soften the blow of my own.
I was also reminded that I am not alone…that there are lots of people out there facing what I have faced, and what I still face in many ways.
I came away wishing I had connected with more survivors sooner. It wasn’t draining talking with them. Instead it was a blessing.
I came to realize a powerful truth: that people facing cancer are some of the most brave and courageous people I know.
I feel bonded with them, no matter what their story, and I probably always will.
I am so thankful that I got to meet them and hear their stories. And I believe you will, too, because soon these five survivors will appear on Hope Has Arrived. So, stay tuned.
May they encourage you. May they help you remember that you are not alone. May they help inspire you to find real and lasting hope.
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