Insights from a “Schmalzy” Poster

Guest Blog from My Mom a.k.a. Mary Nairn!

As I sat waiting for an appointment the other day, my eye was drawn to a poster on the wall.

It was one of those (often schmaltzy!) posters popular with organizations or businesses where “team building” is the mantra.  You know the posters… large, stunning photo at the top, one word ‘title’ below, followed by a (hopefully) inspiring, or at least uplifting phrase.

Usually I don’t give them much more than a passing “hmm… nice photo”, but this one really grabbed me.

Below the photo, the word “Character” appeared in large bold letters.  And below this it read: “The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputations from storms or tempests.”

I sat looking at the poster and thought – this is you, Lynsey.

You have already surmounted SO many things in battling the ‘tempest’ that is cancer, that I think it’s hard to see just how MUCH you have done.  I wondered if the “skillful pilot“ in the poster is like a “cancer fighter”.

Here’s my thinking…

Fighters are often heroes.  You are certainly one to me, and to many, MANY others.  I seldom go anywhere without someone stopping me to ask about you, or say wonderful things about you.  The recognition you received recently in the “40 Under 40” campaign AND in the Globe & Mail article, simply introduced a wider audience to the fighter/hero many of us have known for some time now.

Fighters often have back-upothers who fight along with them and who always ‘have their back’.  From the family members and close friends who formed your initial ‘support platoon’, the numbers continue to grow each week it seems.  So much so that you now have your own personal ARMY of people watching your back!

Fighters are often scared, but do what needs to be done, despite their fear.  Smart fighters know that if fear is shared, it has a way of dissipating.  Let others take on some of this fear, so that yours can lessen – and let this transfer of fear happen easily and OFTEN so that it can’t possibly take hold of your fighting spirit!

Fighters often inspire others.  Lynsey, you do this EVERY DAY – in ways that you may never know, and for people you may never ever meet.  Words of love and support for you continue to grow exponentially.  You are truly an inspiration to so many.

The many challenges you have faced, the hurdles you have surmounted, and the wild range of emotions you have dealt with — and overcome! — are mind-numbing…  AND YET… you have managed it all.  You continue to do so with grace, with courage, and of course, with a FIGHTER’S SPIRIT.

Just remember though… fighters are allowed to stop for a breath sometimes.  They’re allowed to regroup, take stock, and size up the enemy.  Know that the people watching your back are here for you… and we’re ready to follow you, and fight WITH you and FOR you… anywhere, anytime.


Just Listen

Just Listen –  excerpt from Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen 

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is out attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important that understanding it. Most of us don’t value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, “I’m so sorry”, when someone is in pain. And meaning it.

One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves. When we listen, they know we care. Many people with cancer talk about the relief of having someone just listen.

I have even learned to respond to someone crying by just listening. In the old days I used to reach for the tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue may be just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their experience of saddness and grief. Now I just listen. When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there with them.

This simple thing has not been that easy to learn. It certainly went against everything I had been taught since I was very young. I thought people listened only because they were too timid to speak or did not know the answer. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than most well intentioned words.


Globe & Mail Article: Why young adults with cancer have distinct needs

Earlier this week a fellow Young Adult Cancer Canada member and I were interviewed for an article in the Globe and Mail about the specific challenges young adults face when dealing with cancer.

The article is published in this morning paper (in the Life & Arts section). It is also available online at ….


Got to run…. flight is boarding for trip to Halifax for YACC’s retreat. Steve and I are really looking forward to meeting more amazing people over the next few days.  ❤

How to Talk to Someone Who Has Canacer



Thank you Jo Hilder!