These days, I read or hear of people requesting prayers for other people going through cancer, like I once was. Since I'm proof that positive thoughts are helpful, I am happy to oblige. But occasionally I'll see requests to tell a dying person to "keep fighting". It bothers me, to see that demand out there. I want to find the person who made that statement, and holler at them. They don't understand.
Their loved one has been fighting, dammit.
I haven't met a single person out there who, when initially diagnosed with cancer, didn't want to fight. Everybody wants to fight. I wanted to fight. Every single mother looks at her children and wants to fight. Men hold their spouse's hand and vow to fight. We all sit down with our doctors, plan out our attack. No matter the disease, we all start out with our fists raised, ready to battle. We're focused on the goal, the prize of a healthy life shimmering in the distance.
And then...well, things just don't work out the way they're expected to.
Surgery doesn't work. Chemo is ineffective. Relapses occur. These huge bumps in the road wear us all down over time, and sometimes, it is just more than a body can deal with. Sometimes a person with an illness just can't fight anymore. Telling someone who is dying, who knows that they are dying, to "keep fighting", as if all it takes is sheer will? It's just cruel. Bodies are decimated, unrecognizable but for the spirit still flickering within. They've already given every single ounce
of strength. Even if they still want to fight, they just can't, not anymore. They are just tired, they are in pain, and they want it to stop.
We need to respect that. We need to accept that. This is not the time to demand that a person keep fighting, no matter how much we need it. It might be the most difficult thing we ever do, keeping our thoughts to ourselves. We want to keep our loved ones with us, encircled in our arms, for as long as we can.
This isn't about you.
This is the time to stop thinking of your own needs, your own wants. Your loved one is tired, exhausted, worn away. They are also terrified. A long time ago, when a person died, they were buried with various treasures, gifts to take into the afterlife. Our compassion, our courage, our strength?
These are our gifts.