Today, I had the opportunity to visit with 17 young adults who are currently battling cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. The thing that stuck out to me most was the amount of fighters who were in their rooms alone. Completely alone. The AYA Coordinator, Amber, and I got to go in, offer support, share some faith, hope, and love, and remind them that cancer is a “we” thing.
My nerves rev up when Amber knocks on each of those hospital doors because we have no idea what's happening on the other side. Each patient's situation is a total surprise every time. Yesterday, we walked into a room with a perfectly healthy looking twenty-something sittin' around eating takeout cheese fries and watching Big Brother. But also yesterday, we walked into a room to find a girl trying to catch her breath with an ice pack on her forehead hoping to not get sick everywhere. We met patients who had been at Moffitt for four weeks, and some who had been there for four days. One patient's room was filled with people/caregivers, while most had absolutely no one. Let's stop there for a second...
The hodgkins lymphoma fighter, with the group of friends, family, and support, had his blinds wide open and all the lights on. The next room was a girl with leukemia who had 2 caregivers with her. Her room was decorated with mini-LED Christmas lights... her room was also pretty bright. However, a majority, if not all, of the rooms to follow had cancer fighters who were alone. These were the rooms with no lights on and closed blinds. Are you pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?
There was a massive difference in the cancer fighters who had community, and the ones who didn't. We got to bring in the darkness-extinguishing, mind-protecting, heart-changing Light. Judah Smith said it best in his Passion 2013 schpeel (added below-start at 20:45), that we were made in the image of a God who is 3-in-1, Father Son Holy Spirit, a community in and of Himself. Being made in His image means we were made for community. Through Spark the Way, we get to offer this Light-bearing community and support because our source is the Light that outshines any darkness.
God gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
As we were wrapping up our visits, Amber looked at me in the hallway and said, "Do you see how their faces light up when we walk in and remind them they aren't alone?". The perfect summary. Community leads a person to the Light of the world when the darkness of their situation seems unbearable. hopeless. blinding.
You. You were created for community.