I’ll admit it. I had a negative thought there for a moment. I picked up a woman at one of the major hospitals and drove her miles to the city in which she lived. For an instant, I couldn’t help wondering why she called for a volunteer. Couldn’t she have gone by bus? She looked fine, spoke in an upbeat manner, even joked a bit. I’m happy to help people out. After all, that’s why I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life but from what I could see, I wondered if she really needed help.
That’s when I realized what was going on. It was an act. An act for her children and her husband who joined us for part of the trip, for her elderly mother who was waiting at the doorstep and perhaps… even for herself. It was an act she put on after every chemo session to convince those around her that everything was fine. She did it so well that she almost fooled even me. But I saw the in-between times. From my rear view mirror, I could see when she let down her guard, not realizing that anyone was there to see. I saw the fear in her eyes, I saw the tear that was immediately wiped away in the privacy of the back seat. I saw her clenched fists as she got ready to leave the car and I heard the catch in her voice as she brightly asked her mother how the babysitting had gone. I heard her mother joke about little Moishe who ate everything but his peas which he used to paint the kitchen wall. For one tiny instant, her mother’s smile faltered but it was immediately put back in its place…that brave lady. Mother, daughter: each one trying to be strong for the other.
I’m told that her compromised immune system does not allow her to use public transportation but even if she could, she is far from healthy enough to do so, in spite of her wonderful act. We at Linked to Life can’t cure the cancer patients that we meet daily. But we can certainly make things easier for them and relieve their suffering at least a little bit. As we provide practical support, we also keep the conversation supportive, offering the proverbial shoulder to lean on. It gives them a feeling of being taken care of which strengthens their spirit and enables them to better fight the battles ahead. We get a lot of feedback about how cared for they feel when riding with us so I guess we’re doing a good job. And so, my dear fellow Linked to Life members, when we hear that beep on our phones, that’s our cue to join the drama and play our roles, offering our own strength and compassion, our arsenal of weapons in the war against a monster named Cancer.