A little star. Are you ok?

There’s a little star on my watch which rewards me when I’ve done some serious exercise. Some days that little star perks me up all day. It says, I see you and I recognise that you’ve done some hard work. Especially when I’ve got this little guy staring at me, tempting me to turn toward the minus:

I’ve been doing lots of hard work, training with my trainer and spinning and trying to just feel fit. Maybe the mind-muscle connection will kick in. Who knows? I’m desperate at this point. I’ve been going to these classes and feeling annoyed that the instructors don’t really seem to notice who’s in front of them. Some of them seem to treat the time as their own private exercise session, just with a few pesky people in front of them. Others see people in really strange positions who seem about to crack a bone with their weird contortions and they say nothing. I really do think they should point out when someone needs to improve their form, but maybe that’s just me with my mini rescuer complex.

The other day I went to a spinning class with my mate Judy Rothberg. Thank goodness for Judy – if it weren’t for her, I’d be even less prepared than I am now. She’s motivated me to go to spinning classes at 5.15 a.m. Yes, a.m. Very early in the morning. Most days I get back before the rest of the family is properly awake. So there I was, my legs spinning round and round, my face streaming with sweat, making funny faces. What can I say, it gets me through the session. I know the funny faces are exactly the same as the ones my mother makes when she’s showing that something is difficult.

So I’m spinning and feeling like a hero, and the instructor gets off his bike and walks up to me and says, “Are you ok?” His look says, I see you and you I recognise that you look like a 69 year old woman in pain. Probably worried that I’m going to have a heart attack and it’ll mess up his day. I tell him I’m fine, thanks. I’m grateful he didn’t shout it out through the microphone for everyone to hear, but I’m also a little bit embarrassed. After the embarrassment, though, came a sense of gratitude. He saw me and he made the effort to connect. It made me think about how we as health professionals possibly don’t always ask, “Are you ok?” enough. Mainly to the parents and other caregivers – we’re very focused on the kids, our patients, and strongly attuned to their every up and down, mainly the physical side. We don’t always ask the parents, “Are you ok? Probably because, let’s face it, what are we going to do if they’re not? We need them to be ok so that we can work together to cure the cancer or walk hand in hand down to the other road. We make a huge effort at the beginning, when we first meet families, to link to support – psycho-social care, transport, accommodation, referrals for grants or assistance from amazing non-profit organisations like Cupcakes. But after that, we often assume that the adults are ok.

My friend Lynda, a bereavement specialist, is doing research into how parents and caregivers cope many years down the line, long after the cancer journey of their child has ended, in whichever way it has ended. She’s aiming to see what gaps there are, how we can provide more support, to see if these parents and caregivers really are ok, and if they’re not, what can be done to assist. This is the kind of research we support – ordinary people working together to create extraordinary teams who do a little digging, who unearth something and work with that something to make the world a better place. It’s not rocket science, as people like to say, but it sure is important to the people involved.

I’m so grateful to work with people like Lynda who quietly, doggedly keep helping people. I’m also grateful to the spinning instructor who came and spoke to me again (yes!) to ask again if I was ok. Dude! I’m so ok, I’m going to do the 94.7 come hell or high water. We’ve raised R14 140 so far. We need to get to R100 000 by the end of the year. I would be even more grateful if you lovely people helped me get there. It’s for the kids with cancer and their families and communities. I need them to know that we see them, that we want them to be ok, that we care, and that we want to cure more kids with cancer in our beloved country.

Please go to this link and donate. Be the star I know you are. Image result for smiling star