HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer

Finding a voice in the pain of the beaches and October pink washing

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Shouting

It has been nine weeks since I last wrote a complete blog post. That is a long time and the holiday in Spain where I wrote the last post, with its long, lazy days spent on the beach couldn’t seem further away from England which has suddenly turned grey, autumnal and very chilly!

It hasn’t, however, been nine weeks since I have started a blog post and my computer and iPad are littered with half-written, unfinished and abandoned posts, given up on with yet another frustrated sigh. If I wrote on paper my wastepaper basket would surely be overflowing by now!

It’s funny how sometimes I feel that there is so much to say, but yet it is so difficult to get it all out in a way that truly conveys how I feel. It feels like trying to put a bowl of cooked spaghetti into a logical order. It is hard and messy and doesn’t always go well. 

I find it particularly hard to write anything or convey how I am feeling when I see a lot of pain around me and this summer has witnessed a lot of pain both globally and closer to home. What could I possibly add to the conversation that would seem anything other than at best, irrelevant or at worst, self-indulgent nonsense?

 So, as a result, and to my shame, the horrendous events of dead babies on beaches, the advancing diseases of those around me, as well as the untimely deaths of members of online forums of which I am a part, have gone on with me largely standing silent. My voice crying out against all this pain has remained unspoken and unheard. I have instead found myself crying on the side lines both at the tragedy of it all, as well as with the frustration that comes from not knowing what to do to help and how to stand up and be counted in a meaningful way 

More recently I have been faced with the pink washing that always appears at this time of year. October is breast cancer awareness month and each year I watch with interest at what will be shared via social media to educate and raise awareness of this horrible disease that kills so many each year.

This year the Young Breast Cancer Network UK (YBCN), a network of young women with breast cancer of which I am a part, is sharing a member’s story each day of the month. Many of these women are living with secondary or metastatic cancer for which there is no cure. All of the stories hold great pain and sadness and I have found myself once again being so broken by seeing this pain and yet also carrying a strange sense of guilt that I am so well and my future is looking bright.

The unfairness of it all is not lost on me and I know I am one of the lucky ones on so many fronts. I can find no words to add that would lessen the suffering of those living with cancer as part of their daily lives and so I find myself, once more at a loss for words.

So now that you have waded with me through my internal mental turmoil (thanks for sticking with me through that) what is there left to say?

Earlier this summer I met up with a friend who writes a brilliant blog which I love to read and which is such a blessing to me. I was expressing this mental turmoil to her and she gave me this advice. She said, “Cath, this advice is going to change your life. Just be yourself.”

Although said with a smile and a joke, these simple words really struck me and challenged me. They helped me to realise that it is ok if I don’t have anything useful to say or if I can’t fix all the problems of the world in 800 words or less. Being present and being honest is enough.

So where that leaves us is… I still don’t have anything particularly useful to say on any of sadness that I have seen either on Europe’s beaches or closer to home with those facing illness or bereavement. 

In some senses, I still stand silent on the side lines crying with sadness and frustration.

I wish I could make everything better. But for now, even though I have nothing to add to the conversation and my voice is largely silent, I do still STAND with you.

I pray and I stand on the truth of Revelation 21:4 that this too is temporary and that there will come a time when:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”

As the harrowing images of the summer recede in our consciousness as the media moves on to new stories, and as the pink washing of October begins to fade as the month passes, it is my prayer that I may continue to be moved by these stories. May the cry of my heart still be for justice and for healing and may we all stand in solidarity with the broken and the hurting trusting in the Restorer and the restoration that is to come.

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2 thoughts on “Finding a voice in the pain of the beaches and October pink washing

  1. Cath, so glad you wrote this. You have written a beautiful, vulnerable piece so succinctly that it obviously resonates with many. Being yourself looks good here! Keep writing. xx

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