The Bravery of Children, The Shame of Grown ups


Throughout my bout with cancer, one shocking truth is very clear: I am a sissy. I’ve seen children who are terminal laughing and playing, watched them endure procedures that I would never submit myself to, and live without complaint as they go through it all. This morning was yet another example:

I had to go to get four more masses biopsied in Pittsburgh this morning. Needless to say, I was very stressed out about the visit to the Cancer Treatment center. It wasn’t my first visit there, but hopefully my last.

While there, a small person was sitting fairly close to me as I waited. Of course, being a child, he was quick to notice that I looked worry and didn’t have the social graces to keep quiet about it.

It turns out that he (Jesse) was in for his third go around with the procedure - which is both amazing and worthy of tears at the same time. His mother glanced over as she listened to us talk (I must look more like a psycho that I originally thought).

Nothing deep or profound was said during the conversation until the very end. I had started to relax since I was able to get my mind off of what was in store for me and all of the possible scenarios that I would have choose when he said, “Mommy said that if I am brave and do not cry, she will buy me ice cream on the way home. I can ask her if she will buy you some ice cream too if you are brave and do not cry”. His eyes sparkled and he had a smile on his face as he said it.

There was only one thing to do: I excused myself, walked quickly into the bathroom, went into a stall and closed the door, and cried. I need to learn that ice cream is enough reason to be brave, not cry, and get through the hard times too.


Don’t beat yourself up.

I challenge your sissiness against those who given your set of circumstances, just throw in the towel and figuratively curl up in the corner and literally wait to die.

Crying is for the brave and the strong, so is laughing and smiling and rewarding yourself with ice cream (every so often).

Even if you and Jesse had the exact same cancer(s) and the exact same treatments, expected outcomes, etc, you are permitted to have your own reactions. After all, your realities are different, your understanding of the consequences is different. As long as you aren’t reacting by physically, verbally and mentally abusing those around you, crying, at a minimum, is certainly permitted.

Hoping for the best for you,
YogaO - You Only Go Around Once


That’s beautiful John!


I’m an even bigger sissy than you. Your story made me cry.


Good for you for having the emotional intelligence to realize that crying does not diminish but can strengthen you. You are smart to listen to the wisdom of someone on the same path as you, even if that person is a child.


Well-said. I have also spent time in the presence of these Children of Grace—Grace that they so freely loan to any who are brave enough to engage with them. So many who encounter what appears to be too difficult to bear, look away and turn inward instead of engaging, missing the possibility of enlarging their hearts. But you opened your heart.

As to expressing your grief or sorrow through tears—feelings are not right or wrong. Feelings simply ARE…Blessings


Children are so innocent, and they can teach us so very much…


It made me cry too!


LOL Sissy, No i do not think so. More like very brave. John; I often take lessons form children I see around. They seem to face life like there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your little guy this morning was amazing, I wish you the best. Keep us apprised of your progress.

Rick Phillips


The results came back - all clear this time. I’m relieved, I don’t have to make a choice that I was dreading. The first time through was bad enough, I’m not sure if I would have allowed myself to go through it a second time. Time for some ice cream.


@John_M2 I am so relieved to hear this, and thanks for posting this touching story, it’s been on my mind a number of times the past few days. I’m so glad we are friends, I really enjoy hanging out with you in the chat room. BigHugs!!



thank you for writing this.

there is no shame in being scared. none. I think it is rash to assume heroes aren’t scared where the metal meets the road. I bring spare shirts with me to a regular doctor visit. you went. you were scared and you went anyway, definitive hero in my book.

I think the kid has another point as well, give yourself a reward once in a while, big or small, pick something that you’d like as a reward and make it priority one to give it to yourself takes the focus off and


Some how I missed this post when it first came around.

I’m probably as big a sissy as John. I would have most likely retreated to a private place because I was raised to believe that men never cry in public. That’s a belief that society could do without.

The young man in this story made a wise decision to focus on the prize (ice cream) instead of on what he was about to endure. Decisions like this become harder as we grow wise, As adults we have a greater understanding of what we face, the decisions we must make and the consequences of our actions.

Because John was there it proves that he has made his own brave decision.

I’m glad to hear of the good results John. I hope you are enjoying your prize and maybe some ice cream too.


i teach a third grader with duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. he can walk, and outwardly doesn’t look sick, but he is starting to lose muscle control. i read in a pamphlet that was given to teachers that ultimately he will have trouble breathing, amongst other things. i read he might have to wear a device at night to help him breathe.

my husband was just approved for a CPAP device, which will help him breathe better at night. i thought i would talk to my student about how glad i was that my husband was getting this device. i said that he wouldn’t be waking up with a headache anymore, and he would feel better. i was hoping my student would remember this conversation if/when one day he had to wear a breathing device. maybe in a small way the story would give him comfort, or at least make him less freaked out. i talked about how it would take a little time for my husband to get used to wearing a mask with tubes in his nose. my student said, “yeah, your whole life is about getting used to things…” i figured he probably knew what he was talking about.


Interesting time for me to revisit this post. I am trying to wind down for bed after a day spent with many long distance messages and phone calls as family tried to stay abreast of just why, when my beloved sister had a leg cramp, it broke her leg…

Probably cancer, maybe bone, maybe a certain type of stage 4 lung cancer that can do this. Surgery on leg, biopsy, CT—many more tests to happen tomorrow. May know a bit more late afternoon tomorrow…

What is the appropriate music to accompany such a day? I turned to Bach and Holst and Barber and the gentle jazz of Stacy Kent. And listened to a couple talks by the earthy, funny, profound American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. And what shall I eat on such a day when there is no appetite? Simple snacks went down best. And what shall I read as I go to sleep—Old familiar comfortable mysteries and novels seem worth a try. We’ll see…

Blessings @John_M2 for writing and for updating us. I am so very glad things went well for you. Thank you so much @Joe and @Stemwinder_Gary and @v_prediabetic for bringing this back to a place where I could re-find it on a night when I needed it especially…Blessings all…Onward—what else can one do?


Judith - I’m so sorry to read your upsetting news. You are one of the most empathic members on this board. I wish I could offer you more than mere words. My thoughts are with you.


But that you are there, my friend, is a boon…Thank you…


Prayers and thoughts to you and yours Judith. No one faces Cancer alone - the family has as much of a burden as the one struck. I have fought this far too many times, and will not fight it again.


Thank you so much @John_M2. I have followed many stories here and I know I have a steep learning curve ahead. She’s back in Mpls where I grew up and I am out here in Oregon. Our Big Brother is also out here on the West Coast . He is flying there on Monday and I’ll follow him when we know more. She’s in surgery now.

I thought I’d start a separate thread once I know more and after doing some research. Knowledge helps me get through such times…Blessings all. Update later…