Sometimes I wish more people could visit cancer treatment centers. I meet the most wonderful people there. I have an awful tendency to just start talking to people. Quite often, I will overhear something and I want to try to give people some hope, or perhaps an observation or experience I have had which may help their treatment go better.
Sometimes what I get in return is far more valuable.
This last Friday, I was sitting next to an old man....imagine if you will, someone with a baseball cap pulled low on his head, a weathered, prominent face and ...well...next to no teeth. His daughter was dark haired and her skin was pulled tightly over an angular face. She looked like one of the dark Scot's Irish descendants who live in the hill country of Ohio and Kentucky. She could easily have passed for a cousin of Loretta Lynn.
I started talking with the gentleman. It turns out he has had prostrate, lung, and bladder cancer over many years and now, like me, the cancer is back in his bones. He was unsure which of the cancers had metastasized. It does make a difference, because some of the cancers are easier to treat once they've gone to the bone than others. I told him that he and I were sharing the same experience.
He leaned over and asked me, "Does it hurt?" Well, yes, sometimes, but not all the time. "What do you do for it?" I take ibuprophen and try to keep my chin up. "Oh. Ibuprophen only works for about an hour on me, then it comes back to hurtin'. " Oh. I encouraged him to tell his oncologist exactly how much it hurt him. But, I felt really badly. Mine only hurts for a while...and lately I think it is the muscle and joint pain associated as a side effect of the various drugs I'm on.
We talked for a bit...as I got up to get a glass of water, he laughed and said he can't abide water. Coffee he drinks, but he never had a taste for water. I love water as long as it's really cold and I thought of my own father who when asked if he drank, he responded, "yes, all the water I can get my hands on."
He looked at me and said a blessing to me. Then, a bit later as I got up to go into the treatment room, I wished him well. He called out another blessing on me...that the "Lord will keep you and heal you..." He repeated it. I looked at him and said I wanted the same for him.
I was touched. It occurs to me that we all need to "call down blessings" on people. Ones we know, ones we don't. Ones we see everyday in struggles, in the grocery store, on the street, and just anywhere in our busy lives. We need to call down blessings especially on those who annoy us the most. I can't help but think that in this blessing, which by the way...saying out loud is not something I'm comfortable with...but I have to say felt very comforting when he said it, actually brings down just as much blessing on the one who gives as the one who receives.