Distressingly desensitised

lung_cancer_awarenessI headed to the chemo ward last week, much the same as any other week. But there was a difference—it wasn’t my week for treatment. I was visiting a friend who was having chemo for the first time and I figured he’d like some support.

As I drove to the hospital I became distressed. Not because I was heading to my least favourite place in the universe. Not because my friend had cancer. Not because he was only 17 years of age.

I was upset that the whole experience seemed normal. It seemed okay to be visiting a boy with cancer. I wasn’t shocked or horrified that this should be happening to someone so young and fit, who had their whole life ahead of them. There were no cries or tears or anger. I realised that cancer had become normalised for me. And I hated that fact.

There is nothing normal or acceptable about cancer. It’s a blight. It’s a parasite. It feeds on life. It steals life. It destroys life.

Dear God, please fix my blurred vision to see things for what they truly are. May I not grow desensitised to disease and suffering and death. May I not grow blasé to the horrors of cancer. Enable me to weep with those who weep. Fill my heart with compassion and kindness. Strengthen my hope in your saving grace and lead me to share this with others.

6 thoughts on “Distressingly desensitised”

  1. Dave

    Cancer changes us and part of that change is we must be strong to fight. As a warrior in battle, we become accepting of the horrors associated with our terminal illness and the only way to protect ourselves is try not to be so emotional. iIt doesn’t mean that we don’t care deeply but rather our bodies and minds are designed to do this for our survival. God made this design and it is perfect. Give yourself a break and be gentle with yourself! God loves you and is so very proud of you.

  2. Im with Leslye Dave,

    Working with people with cancer, losing a mother to cancer has normalised it for me. It isn’t that I don’t hate what cancer does but I realise it is part of “normal” life. Treating people with cancer as “normal” is important for them too as long as we do not diminish the impact it is having for them. I’d be totally unhelpful and burnt out if I was struck down with emotion with every patient who walks into my room. That objective difference is necessary.

    Having said that…. I am, also, waiting for “my turn”….. I am very aware that cancer doesn’t discriminate.

    yes, be kind to yourself. You will be of great help to such a fellow as a compassionate brother with a strong grip on life and eternity.


  3. Hi Dave, thanks for sharing your desensitisation with us. I guess it’s one of our coping mechanisms we don’t get overwhelmed. So sometimes that’s helpful; other times like you mention being desensitised is totally out of place. “Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn …” The tears need to be real. As I thought about your reflections, I realised that it’s so easy to be desensitised to those on the highway to hell. It seems to normal. Thank you for waking me up again. Michael

  4. I wish to add that the quality of our sensitivity is not measured by the volume of our tears or the loudness of our anger. Your sensitivity is surely expressed in the unscheduled visit to the clinic and the time spent with your young friend. Your sensitivity is expressed again in the reflective words of another Macarism.
    Furthermore, tears and anger are best expressed in times and places other than driving on our busy roads.
    Drive carefully and keep on caring.


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