What's in a word?

Friday 11 May 2018

There is a saying that a hundred mile journey starts with a single step, I would also say that every  conversation starts with a single word and it is amazing where it can lead…..

I was (as is often the case) on a train the other day.  Those of you familiar with commuter trains will be aware they are largely silent with the exception of  an “is this seat free?” and the occasional overloud phone conversation….

Every now and then however someone will join the train who is blissfully unaware of “the rules”  and this is what I witnessed the other day:

A man joined the train and sat at the last seat available on a 4 person table seat. The other passengers were already seated  (A teenager apparently texting, a business woman and a man watching a film on a table)  they didn’t acknowledge him and for a few minutes they sat in customary silence.

After a few minutes the teenager looked flustered put her phone down and started looking through her bag she then appeared upset .  The man asked her if she was ok and she said her phone had run out of battery and she had forgotten her charger – the man then asked the woman opposite (who had  not appeared to hear the conversation) if she had one, as her phone was the same. She then produced a charger for the teenager to use. 

The teen thanked her and  then said she was writing her application for medical school on her phone ,  at which point the man said he was a recently retired surgeon and would she like some help which led to a long discussion.  During the conversation he mentioned a trial he had worked on – which the business woman heard and then said was related to the work she was currently doing ( work which which wouldn’t have happened without the Dr’s trial) After talking about it for a while the Dr and the business woman started a more social conversation. It became clear they had some mutual friends.  Then the Dr mentioned he was from a small welsh village. At this point the younger man who had been silent said he had also grown up there and was now on his way there this led to a lively discussion about many shared experiences.

By the time I left the train an hour later the teenager had some work experience offered to support her application to medical school as well as a load of advice for her interview, the business woman had some background to the work she was currently doing, the younger man had found out more about the history of his village.  As for the Dr he had a big smile on his face, as if he felt he had been able to pass something on and had made what could have been a very dull journey much more interesting.

It occurred to me that this is also what happens here at Maggie’s both online and in our Centres – by saying hello and sharing experiences over the kitchen table  or via our  forum with other members you can stumble upon helpful advice or some friendly words from someone you may have thought you had no connection with.

It can be hard to take that first step – to say hello,   to say or to write how things are just now, but sometimes, as with the train journey,  from a simple question or just someone seeing what is happening (the teenager didn’t ask for help, remember it was the Dr seeing her looking upset) support  and understanding can follow.

There are of course also others (like me on the train) who may listen/watch  but don’t get involved but don’t underestimate the effect on those people.

The online team get many  private messages from people affected by cancer who join Maggie’s Online because  a conversation post or blog they have read from another members has struck a chord and  helped them to take the step of registering or walking in the door of one of our Centres and letting someone know  how cancer has affected them and the people close to them.

Someone may also read  and not register, but perhaps they will understand more about their own situation. They may see a  Dr sooner, know more about treatment or support available and feel more able to ask for help, or perhaps just know  that how they are feeling just now is “normal” or understandable in their situation.

So if you have been thinking about posting a conversation or starting a blog – give it a go  and say hello to someone…

For anyone reading this,  and other online posts, who hasn’t registered  or perhaps you haven’t visited for a while and aren’t sure  how to get involved, you are very welcome to register and to get in touch privately with our professional online team  or to take that step and share with other members too.

As for me on the train – I sat there quietly not appearing to listen as I am sure others on the train also did   and the passengers at the table were probably completely unaware of our interest, however having seen what happened  I have since started a couple of conversations on the train myself – with surprising results… but that’s another story


Blog originally posted by Robyn 2017

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