Buoys of Love
By: Patty Murray, Chairwoman and Co-founder of Hope for Two…The Pregnant with Cancer Network
I am penning this article while sipping on my afternoon homemade espresso and nibbling on a coconut macaroon. My mom recently gave me a few packets of these cookies after hearing of the possible health benefits of coconut for a colon infection that I developed subsequent to taking strong antibiotics after a recent surgery. This article is about the macaroon, the notes, dinners, prayers, flowers, and the small and thoughtful gifts. They are the loving life buoys that not only keep the receiver afloat but lift up the giver as well.
Several weeks back, when I was beginning to feel more like myself after my illness, I had lunch with a longtime good friend. Once into our conversation, she said, “I didn’t know what to do when you were ill so I emailed you periodically and sent good thoughts and prayers your way.” Her voice trailed off and up as if to ask if that was OK. I emphatically said. “YES!” If the spirit moves you to act, then do so. It doesn’t matter what form your kindness comes in, so long as the receiver knows you care. People are not aware of the many ways their acts of kindness aid a person going through a difficult time, no matter what her case may be. Little acts help not only in the present, but also during the course of the person’s difficulty, and in the long term as well.
Obviously it aids in the moment: a dinner is provided for them or they smile when they see that someone sent them a note, text, email, or small gift, and they grin even wider when they read the kind words. Also, seemingly insignificant gestures assist during the course of their adversity because these niceties help them maintain a positive attitude. They truly buoy their spirit, which is scientifically proven to assist in the healing process. As a bonus, these buoys additionally help out long term because each time the person uses the gift, remembers the dinners, emails, and texts, and looks at the saved notes she is lifted up once again. As a result, these loving acts have such far reaching effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I still have the eight inch high stack of notes from nineteen years ago and the notes from my most recent health issue are still gracing my kitchen hutch cabinet. Those memories of the thoughtful kindnesses are reminders that people love and care about me, which give me the strength to persevere and have hope for a complete recovery.
Interestingly, those same acts of kindness also benefit the giver. The giver genuinely just wants to give out of the goodness of her heart. Yet as a by-product of her kind act, she in turn receives a “helper’s high,” which is a sense of euphoria, followed by feelings of calmness and serenity. Also, many studies have shown that altruism greatly diminishes stress and two neurotransmitters are released in the body in greater numbers: endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and serotonin, which imparts feelings of well-being and happiness. Nineteen years ago when treated for Breast cancer, I was very reluctant to accept any help. When asked if I needed anything, I would quickly say, “No thanks, we have everything covered.” But, I learned two things. One is that no didn’t always mean no. Sometimes, inside I was screaming yes but said no. Also, I was finally enlightened, that by denying someone the opportunity to assist another person, denied them those great feelings which result from giving. So the “gift” is basically a two for one deal.
I feel that Hope for Two is a life buoy. Our mission is to walk with our women, to give them important information, and to lift them up during their cancer journey. Our hearts truly jump with joy each time we are sent a testimonial telling us that we have made a difference in the lives of our members. Until next time, let us all continue to send out love to others, in whatever form it takes, so they know that they are not alone and to give them Hope for a better tomorrow. ✿