Compassion and kindness are so important. Especially in these uncertain times in which we live. One of the many unsettling things that requires us to go about our days with careful consideration is breast cancer.

It’s not just women over sixty that you only hear about through grandma’s book club getting diagnosed with this tragic disease anymore. It’s the young mom with three kids that lives down the street. It’s the active vegetarian sister of a friend from your running group. It’s your three year old daughter’s dance instructor. We can no longer impersonalize this disease because, chances are, we personally know someone that has it.

Take my story, for instance. I am 36-years-old and come from a very health-conscious family. Two years ago, my sister, who was in her early thirties at the time, received the disheartening news that she had breast cancer. She was a brand new mom and worked full time at a great job. She and her husband were active in their church and community. They couldn’t have seen this coming from a mile away. There were no signs that the next two years of her life would be drastically uprooted. She had no way of knowing that the breast cancer would eventually take her young life. But it did. Unexpectedly.

I don’t share this story to get your pity or concern, though I greatly appreciate it. I share my story to encourage you to take a good hard look at the women in your world. To seek out the ones that breast cancer has targeted and love them. Love them with your time. Love them with your gifts. Love them with your words.

My sister’s family was so blessed (and are still being blessed) by members of their church and neighborhood who came beside them and helped them out in unbelievable ways during this tumultuous time. I hated that I couldn’t be there for much of my sister’s battle because of the miles between us. But I am so grateful that she had people that saw her need and went over and above to care for her family so that they could enjoy their last days together.

This is necessary. It shouldn’t be a foreign concept to love others well. Sure, it can be awkward. But, awkwardness shouldn’t replace kindness. Ever. Compassion should be a part of our normal routine. You just never know who you may cross paths with that finds themselves fighting against this monstrous illness. What if it were your sister? Mother? Best friend? Every single victim and survivor has a story of significance no matter their age or circumstances. A story that needs to be told. Without their stories we can remove ourselves from the very real truth that breast cancer is a violent enemy willing to take anyone from us. ANYONE. But avoiding the stories doesn’t negate their existence, I’m afraid.

So, let’s listen to their stories of hope and loss. Of despair and victory. Let’s get to know the mama struggling through chemotherapy instead of taking a backseat to that friendship because of how hard it is to watch her go through this. We may never know how much our presence in someone’s life makes a difference but, I promise you, it does. If all else fails, ask yourself: If I were facing this aggressive attack, would a sweet card encourage me on the days when I can’t get out of bed? Would a hot meal brought to my front door give me more than just physical nourishment? Would a hug despite my disheveled appearance and inability to put on makeup fill me with hope?

I think you know the answers.