I believe that daily we are gifted with opportunities; that an observant person can see them as glinting bubbles floating in their path to either pass by or burst open and examine.
I have a friend, Aundrea, who has been battling cancer longer than I've known her. For a long time she didn't share this information--really not until it started interfering with her work did she begin mentioning little things that made me realize she was fighting a struggle I knew nothing about.
Aundrea is a jeweler, and the first thing she mentioned was neuropathy (damage in her fingers due to her treatments)--a difficulty feeling the amount of pressure she was putting on a piece of sterling silver wire. She kept breaking it, using too much force. While she struggled to find alternate clues as to how far she can push the metal, her body struggled to fight vaginal cancer.
For a while, words of encouragement, helpful hints and comments were enough as Aundrea fought to keep MAKING things. But now she's fighting for her life, on her third and last possible round of chemo and radiation. She is in constant pain, has stopped visiting her workbench, and yet her faith and her spirit, her sense of humor and warmth endure.
Many of us--several of her metalsmith friends on Facebook--have banded together: Team Aundrea is at work now, trying to find ways to relieve stress, keep her spirits up, help pay some bills, and even pray. There are atheists in this group of people praying for Aundrea, because it is her strength and her beliefs that are most important in her fight to (as she says,) "Kick Cancer's Ass" and we support her in her fight. We are making jewelry as thank you gifts for donations, planning art auctions, and using social networking to garner support.
We cannot end all suffering in this world. But every little bit counts. Every time you lighten another's burden, the world at large becomes a better place. Ripples of kindness move outward and intersect with other people, new needs. If nothing more, I hope this story encourages you to think of someone near to you--in proximity or in heart--that you can help. Offer to cook a meal, clean house, drive to and from appointments, entertain the kids, watch a movie together, listen....help and support come in many forms. With observation you will know the appropriate response. Sometimes it is enough to just BE with a person. And if you have a little extra and would like to help Aundrea, here's a link with her story: http://www.gofundme.com/zck6nw and here is the Facebook site where auctions and giveaways will begin soon:
"Knot Ashamed" pendants--a gift for donors to Aundrea's fund, made by Team Aundrea--are based on her "Knot" series of pendants which celebrate all the things cancer cannot take from her. In an artist’s life, our legacy is our work: may Aundrea’s “Knot Ashamed” pendants be a reminder of her strength, resilience and absolute will to survive this. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/zck6nw to learn more about this necklace and how to get one.