Faithfully yours - Waging a quiet war


Neil Strohschein
The Neepawa Banner

He’s been in the NHL since he was 19. He’s now 38. He’s played for five different teams. In 1390 regular season games, he’s scored 525 goals and added 609 assists to his record.

But Marian Hossa won’t be suiting up for the Chicago Blackhawks this fall. For the past few years, he’s been battling a progressive skin disorder. He’s on medication and it’s helping. But the side effects are so severe that he’s decided to take the next year off, get the best medical help he can get and see what can be done to address this increasingly serious condition. He’s doing this with the full support of his family, his teammates, the Blackhawks’ management and their medical staff. I know his fans (of which there are some in Manitoba) wish him all the best.

Marian Hossa is in good company. There are thousands just like him—people who are waging a quiet war with serious illness. They live in every community in The Banner’s coverage area.
They suffer from a wide variety of physical and emotional problems. Every case is unique. Some are recovering—slowly, but they are recovering. Some are coping; thanks to regular visits to a doctor, appropriate medication and good self-care. Some are fighting what they know could well be a losing battle; but they refuse to give up hope for a cure and ultimate complete recovery.

Like Marian Hossa, few of these people will speak publicly about the challenges they face. They don’t want to be called “whiners” or “complainers.” They know that they aren’t the only ones with problems—they don’t need (or want) to be constantly reminded of that fact.
Nor are they looking for magic words that will make the pain go away or that might bring about an instant cure. They know such words don’t exist. They’ve heard words like this before and quite frankly, they haven’t helped all that much.

So, what can we who care offer these valiant warriors? One thing—the assurance that they are surrounded by people who will love them unconditionally and accept them as just as they are—no questions asked, no strings attached. We can be faithful friends who will take their hand, stand with them and stay with them until the war is over; even if that means watching one or more of them slowly fade and ultimately pass away.

Being such a friend will not be easy. It will stretch our faith—sometimes to the limit. But God will give us the strength we require to be the faithful friends hurting people seek.
My final words are to the warriors themselves. I want you to know that you are not alone. There are people in this community who love you and care for you. Some of us have had experiences like those you are now going through. We know how it feels to suffer. We have battled the same feelings of hope and despair. We understand how you feel. We are in your corner. Quietly and behind the scenes, we are supporting you in our thoughts and prayers.

We are here to help if you need us. We will not inflict ourselves on you. But we will never be far away. If you fall, we will pick you up. And we will do for you what others did for us in our time of need—we will point you to the God who is helping us cope with the challenges we face; and we will pray that He will do the same for you.