Years ago, as I rode the morning train into the city for university classes, I befriended another rider who shared the same stop. Often, we chatted about inconsequential things such as the weather and music – always scraping the surface, but never getting truly personal. She was a kind, witty woman; in her mid-twenties, she was already working downtown as a litigation assistant.
Months passed and we took to sitting together whenever we spotted each other in line. Since I only had morning classes three times per week, I saw her on and off throughout the semester. Then, weeks went by and I didn’t see her at all. Reasoning that she had probably changed jobs (or careers – she often talked about branching out in her field), I thought about how lonely the ride seemed with no one to talk to.
One morning, she once again appeared at my stop. I smiled broadly and approached quickly, taking long strides to meet up with her. As she turned, I instantly pulled back. She had lost weight; her eyes were rimmed with dark circles and her usually immaculately made up face was makeup-free and sallow.
I hesitated; I knew something was terribly wrong, but I’ve never been particularly forward about soliciting bad news. So I smiled tentatively and told her it was good to see her again. Grinning back at me, we boarded the train and settled into our seats.
“My mom is fighting cancer,” she announced with no preamble whatsoever.
I looked at this woman whom I had chatted with for months, and didn’t know what to say. So I simply put my hand over hers, and whispered – “I hope she wins.”
“There is always hope,” she replied with a smile.
The train arrived at the station, we said goodbye and parted ways. And, I never saw her again.
For weeks I scanned the obituaries for any mention of her family name. I looked for her every morning until the end of the school term, but she never reappeared at the train stop. There is always hope, she had said. In that moment, I prayed that her hope had given her strength. And that she knew I was thinking about her.
This holiday season, I’m remembering my morning commuter with The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Doves of Hope Campaign.
Doves of Hope show patients that they aren’t alone in their fight to conquer cancer. The Doves are completely free to create, and knowing that other people are fighting with them gives patients and their families tremendous hope during their journey with cancer.
When you dedicate a Dove of Hope to a loved one, it will be displayed online in The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s Dove Gallery. Your friends and family will be able to search for it and read the message you left. Doves of Hope are also displayed in the atrium of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, where patients, their caregivers and family, and all of The Princess Margaret Staff can read the heartfelt messages.
In the past 10 years, over 55,000 Doves of Hope have been dedicated to people touched by cancer. Patients, survivors, caregivers and family members have been given hope by these doves. Volunteers, medical professionals and researchers working to conquer cancer in our lifetime have been inspired to push on during trying times. This year, they hope to have 11,000 Doves of Hope dedicated to loved ones.
This Christmas, please take a few moments to dedicate a Dove of Hope to a loved one. There is no charge for creating and dedicating a Dove, and you’ll help provide strength and inspiration to those who need it most. And, if you are able to make a small donation, the hope that Dove represents is amplified. Doves of Hope donations are used to support the life-saving, cancer-conquering work at The Princess Margaret Hospital.
Dedicate a Dove to a loved one today, and give hope to patients this holiday season.
The opinions on this blog are my own.