Living with cancer blog

The simple words of a hero

By Lonnie Fynskov, R.N. December 30, 2015

Last week I was listening to the radio while doing some holiday baking. The host was interviewing a variety of people who had chosen specific paths, in part because someone had given them words of encouragement at a time in their life when it made a major impact.

Their journeys ranged from becoming an accomplished artist to sailing solo around the world to changing from a life of crime to helping young men stay out of prison.

They shared how even simple comments like "excellent job" or "you've got real talent" helped them see themselves from a new perspective. They called these people their heroes. These simple words allowed them to think they could actually follow their dreams or maybe just recognized them as a worthwhile person.

Stories are powerful. We often identify with the storyteller in some way. That was the situation for me last week. I began remembering encouraging remarks people offered while I was struggling with the awkwardness of adolescence or as a young adult.

Words such as "you would be a great nurse" or "it is obvious you worked hard on that" definitely impacted my future decisions. Then I found myself thinking of times when I may have had similar thoughts about someone else but didn't express it to them.

Occasionally, it was an observation of someone that I barely knew and I thought my impression was too insignificant to share. But sometimes those are exactly the time and thoughts that may matter most.

A comment of encouragement from a coworker or friend at the right time might be just what someone needs at that moment. They are words that come from the heart and might seem so simple, but mean so much.

So today I'm trying to be more mindful of those around me, trying to catch them being creative, thoughtful, kind or curious. I will probably never know if it matters to them when I tell them what I've witnessed. However, I know it has made a difference to me in how I look at the people around me.

Sometimes the negativity in the world can be silenced by the whispered acknowledgement of the person beside us. Cancer has no power to silence the voice of encouragement.

I hope this story inspires you to share your positive thoughts and simple words of encouragement to those around you. Sending out these positive thoughts is one small way that you can make a big difference to the people around you at this time.

Have you experienced a hero in your life? How did that impact you? I would love to hear your stories!

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Dec. 30, 2015