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A Small Act of Kindness Can Have a Big Impact

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Living with a chronic illness can, at times, feel isolating and like an ongoing test of endurance. You never know what great mountain awaits you when you first open your eyes every morning. That’s providing you were able to sleep in the first place of course, as pain and discomfort so often try to envelope you through the night.

I regularly write about how the small, joyful moments in life mean so much. The hot cup of mid-morning coffee on the back deck, the birds singing, breakfast in bed brought to me by a loving husband every morning… The list of little joys quickly add up, ensuring I have a bit of strength for the daily endurance test.

I’ve been contemplating lately how one of the most uplifting moments, especially to someone living with a chronic illness or disability, is a simple “random act of kindness.”

It’s that unexpected moment when often a complete stranger reaches out a hand of friendship, compassion, understanding, practical assistance or emotional support. It’s the act of kindness that is so unexpected which remains with you long after the event. It brings hope, encouragement and a sense of community that lets you know you are not alone.

My closed Facebook forum, Medical Musings with Friends, is growing beyond my wildest expectations. When I had the idea to set it up three months ago, I thought it would be a small group of 50 members, but as I write, we are close to 700 members from around the world, all seeking that sense of community and the need to know that others truly understand and care – all seeking a little kindness. We add at least 20 new members a day, which is incredible growth for this type of forum. We are primarily all strangers but we are also friends, showing “random acts of kindness” every day as we encourage one another, cry with each other and laugh together.

It is heartwarming to witness someone always available, night and day, when one of the members really needs a kind word or a listening ear.

It’s inspiring, its phenomenal, it’s beautiful and it’s such an honor to be a part of it all.

The greatest act of kindness for me is that these beautiful members – all living with chronic, complex and disabling diseases – are trusting me and my admin team to care for them, protect them and cherish and respect their stories. It is such an amazing responsibility and gift, as through their act of kindness in placing that trust in me, I now have renewed purpose and vision and strength to climb the daily mountains in front of me. I can’t thank them enough!

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

One of my forum admins shared a beautiful story with me yesterday about a special “act of kindness” that she instigated for her neighbors. She has her own difficult health battle but despite that she reached out to others in need in such a selfless way.

She lives on the first floor, above a shop, and shares an entrance to the building with a man who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. She ran into him the other day and he admitted to her, because he knew she also has a chronic disease, that he was struggling a bit with the emotional side of his diagnosis. She also knew that the neighbor on the other side of her unit wall had bowel cancer too. So despite being really unwell herself, she decided to invite them both over. As a result, these two men were able to sit down together to talk, removing that sense of isolation that can so often overwhelm someone battling a difficult diagnosis.

They now all feel less alone knowing they share a common bond, a special bond, a bond that has formed as a result of a beautiful “random act of kindness.”

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Originally published: April 28, 2017
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