Focusing the Lens

autismribbonbreastcancerribbonUnless you live in a place where there is no media, you know it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are pink ribbons and items everywhere and for those of us that are over a certain age, it reminds us to go get a Mammogram and not be complacent about our health. (Just so you know mine is scheduled for November 5). But to me, the interesting thing about this month is that it’s not my month. My month is April. What do I mean by that? My month is Autism Awareness Month which is April. World Autism Awareness Day is April 2 and we light it up blue that day. Our ribbons are a medium blue. So seeing all of the pink out now I am reminded that each of us has a cause that is near to our hearts; either we know someone afflicted by a disease, disorder, or condition, or we are sensitive to those we care about and their concerns.
Raising a child with autism is not in any way like having breast cancer. However, humanity itself allows us the flexibility, the mental space, to care for others even though we have no true sense of what they are going through. We have the ability to empathize, sympathize and offer solace. I work with several women who have survived breast cancer. I am amazed by their resilience and tenderness. I am also amazed how these women often reach out to me to help me when I’m feeling down about autism. So you see, overcoming something or learning how to cope is not one dimensional. Learning to deal with the unimaginable, the unknown, and the unforeseeable may be a secret club, but it’s not exclusive to your plight. I also notice the reciprocity of support, will you support my breast cancer event and I’ll support your autism event? There is a symbiotic effect that is both necessary and comforting. I had a friend who passed away a few years ago from cancer, not breast cancer per se, but cancer of the lymph system. He and I had grown up together and although we were not in each other’s lives on a daily basis we had an awareness of each other’s lives. About a year after Bryan was diagnosed with autism and he was diagnosed with cancer we spoke for the first time. There was an undercurrent to our conversation, an unspoken, did you ever think things would work out like this for us? So during this month of breast cancer awareness I am going to focus on just the awareness part; the awareness of others and their concerns and reminding myself to adjust my lens away from the myopic setting.


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