Never Underestimate The Power Of You
Kindness truly does go a long way ...
This week, it was my intention to write a blog post about something business related, but instead, this is something very personal that I would like to share with you all ...
This was taken on Steffi and Brendan's last day of radiotherapy. Brendan is on the very right of the picture.
Two years ago, I supported my best friend, Steffi, through her fight against cancer. For those of you that know us both, you would have been aware of the battle that she had and that I was by her side every step of the way.
From diagnosis, throughout treatment to the months and months of aftercare that was needed once treatment had finished. I was, and to this day still am, Steffi's support system.
Steffi had to endure three rounds of chemotherapy, and I would go with her each time. The day would consist of me taking her to the hospital first thing in the morning then we would sit in the waiting room anxiously until her name was called. We would go through to the chemo suite at Northampton Hospital and find our seats amongst many other people, of all ages and backgrounds, who were there fighting for their lives too.
There is no way to make this room a warm and welcoming place, though the staff would always have a smile on their face and do their best to keep spirits up.
Once seated, Steffi would have the usual checks of blood pressure, weight and general wellbeing before being hooked up to the chemo. For each session, she would have three different types of toxic chemicals pumped into her body, which meant we would be there for the whole day.
"I will never forget the sound of all the machines beeping away and the looks on the patients' faces; some of hope, some of defiance, and some of resignation!"
What was so blindingly clear for me is that cancer does not discriminate. It doesn't care how old you are, how well you have lived, what you do for a living, not even whether you smoke or not.
On the first day of Steffi's treatment, we were sat opposite a young man (I'm going to say young as he was only a year older than me) who was starting treatment too.
His name was Brendan. A very gentle and unassuming chap who was sat there on his own. My opening words to him were to apologise in advance for anything that he may overhear and to let me know if we were disturbing him in any way.
From the day that Steffi got diagnosed, we used humour as a coping mechanism. Sometimes, it would be just plain silliness and other times could appear to be a bit dark, but it did the job of stopping Steffi falling into the abyss of fear that she was standing in front of, and, as far as I was concerned, I would have done anything to prevent that from happening.
We received some puzzled looks from her consultants as they were giving us some very negative insights into what lay ahead, and we would find some way to shine a light on it.
Anyway, back to Brendan. Having got introductions out of the way we discovered that he was having the exact same course of treatment as Steffi. We had all been told that this was the most aggressive form of treatment that anyone would be able to endure, so we all knew that the next few months would not be easy ... far from it.
"So now Steffi had someone who was fighting the same fight!"
I would spend hours talking with Brendan about his family, especially about his teenage daughter and while Steffi dozed, I would be a sounding board for this stranger. He told me that he was not one for opening up, yet he appeared to tell me quite a bit.
I suppose talking to me (someone who has no emotional involvement in his world) was quite a cathartic thing for him to do. I gave him lessons on how to parent a teenage girl - that was an eyeopener for him! I would also get him cups of tea and made sure he was eating ... I even taught him how to play backgammon.
Looking back on it, I probably spent a total of no more than four days talking with him. Once treatment had finished, we would occasionally exchange text messages, and threatened a reunion, but it never happened.
A few months ago he sent me a text to tell me that his cancer had returned and that there was nothing more that could be done, but that he would like to get together for a cuppa and a catch up. The day before we were due to meet, he cancelled as he wasn't feeling too good. That was a month ago.
"Last week, I received a message on Facebook from his 16-year-old daughter telling me that Brendan had died"
She had been trying to track me down as she wanted to let me know what had happened and asked if I could attend his funeral. She wanted to personally thank me for the time I spent with him in the hospital as it had such a profound effect on him.
I went to the funeral, not knowing anyone, but I wanted to pay my respects and hoped to have the opportunity to tell his daughter just how much he loved her.
So there I am, a complete stranger, hearing about the life of this gentle man that I had spent four days in a chemo ward with ... it was surreal. There was a mention in the eulogy of the support that Brendan had been given throughout his fight with cancer and afterwards one of his brothers made a point of speaking to me to thank me. Brendan had told him that I had made him cry with laughter in the darkest of days.
I am still feeling overwhelmed to know the impact that I had made on a complete stranger, just by taking the time to smile, taking the time to talk and more importantly, taking the time to listen. To me, I didn't really do anything, but to Brendan, and to his family, it meant so much more.
"What I'm trying to say is that whatever you do, don't underestimate the power of you!"
We all have the ability to affect change, even when circumstances are seemingly out of our control. So make sure the impact you have on others is a positive one. Kindness truly does go a long way.
Until next time ...
I'm Kirsty Parris and I specialise in helping business owners, like you, to realise the true potential of your business. Whether that is getting you back on track with your business plan or helping to devise and implement new plans that you never thought possible.
Some of my clients see me as a coach, a mentor, a consultant and some even as a financial therapist!
Based near Milton Keynes I primarily work with owner managed and family businesses between London and Birmingham.
I offer a broad spectrum of business development services including business coaching, business growth planning, sales and marketing support, personnel support and systems reviews.
I am not just another business consultant as I see the job through with implementation should you require it and I will work with you on a retained basis as an addition to your team or on a project by project basis...your call...and there is no tie in. You work with me for as long as you are seeing the results.
Your minimum requirement? You need to be ambitious enough to reach or exceed your personal and business potential. Together we will make it happen!