How to brighten someone's day

I am really lousy at sending cards. I don't think I will be anymore.

Since family and friends began learning about my cancer in early December, the number of cards I have received has been heartwarming and astonishing. My wife, Melissa, began hanging them on a door near the kitchen, and the door was soon covered.

The first card I received was from the Kiwanis Club of Kennewick, where I have a lot of friends. Even though I'm no longer a member of that club (I joined the Kiwanis Club of the Horse Heaven Hills, which was started by the Kennewick club), these folks who give so much to our community moved quickly to let me know they were thinking about me, worrying about me and praying for me.

The cards have come by the dozens. Some contain short notes of encouragement or a quick signature. Some have notes that cover every available space. Every one of them is treasured, and Melissa and I are regularly in awe of the friends who take the time to send a card.

One friend, whom we met through Leadership Tri-Cities, sends a card that arrives in the mail the day I have chemotherapy. It's always a goofy card meant to lighten the moment and lift my spirits - and it always does. It is a special person who makes that kind of effort.

Phone calls also brighten my days more than I realized. My Kiwanis buddies make a point of calling just enough to keep up with what's happening with my treatments but without being annoying. There's a fine line there, and they know exactly where it is. I wasn't sure I wanted to get phone calls like that, but I realize now that it's exactly what I need.

I get a lot of emails, probably because there's a link to my address at the top of this blog. They're always appreciated, even if I don't get around to replying. I receive about 300 legitimate emails a day (and would get four times that much in spam if not for a great system we use), so I apologize if I haven't replied in a timely manner.

When I started on this journey, I did not fear the battle against the cancer. I feared how people might react, how they might tell me their cancer stories, how they might want to do things for me. I'm not one who easily lets others help. I have learned to get over that pretty quickly and have come to appreciate just how important it is to be surrounded by friends.

So go to the store and buy a handful of cards (I like the selection at Octopus' Garden in Richland for off-beat humor). When you hear of a friend who is sick, hurt or just down about something, take a quick moment to write a note and drop it in the mail.

It will make a world of difference.