Does One Make a Difference?

Photo of Terry Fox, Canadian cancer fund-raise...

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Caregiving can be lonely. It’s often a responsibility you do alone. You’re often a solo act during personal care, during doctor appointments, during your caree’s difficult moments.

And, when you’re a one-person act, it can be hard to see an impact. It’s even harder when, despite your best efforts, your caree’s disease process still takes its toll.

Even worse: It can feel impossible to know you make a difference when you don’t hear you make a difference.

So, I’ve been thinking: Does one person really make a difference?

As I thought about the tough and difficult moments in my life, it occurred to me that I kept going because of one person. It was one person–not 10, not 500, not 1,000–who showed up to show me that I can continue, I can make it, I can endure it. Sometimes, that one person was a family member or friend. And, sometimes, it was a stranger.

But it was always just one person.

In the few days I’ve been wondering about this, more evidence of the power of one has presented itself. A young girl in my “boot camp” work-out class keeps me going. (I discuss the young girl during Tuesday’s episode of Your Caregiving Journey, which you can listen to via the player at the bottom of the post.)

Last night, I spoke with my sister on the phone. She told me about a series on ESPN, 30for30, which she has been watching that she thought I would enjoy. She told me about a biography the series had recently featured. “Into the Wind” tells the story of Terry Fox, a a 21-year-old who lost a leg to cancer, who decided to run across Canada to raise awareness and money for cancer research. His goal was to run 26 miles every day.

He ran for 143 days and across about two-thirds of Canada, until his cancer returned, ending his journey. By that time, he raised $1.7 million. He died nine months later. The following year, a foundation was created in his name and now sponsors the Terry Fox Run, the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research. More than $500 million (Canadian dollars) has been raised in Terry Fox’s name.

That money is great, don’t get me wrong. But, really, the true gold lies in the impact–the difference the one person makes. Every day, you get up and decide to make a difference by being there for someone who needs you. And, you do without regular thanks or monetary rewards.

You show up. You do it. And, because you do, you make a huge difference. One—you—does make a difference.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

4 thoughts on “Does One Make a Difference?

  1. Francine

    Reminds me of the quote I have on my wall –
    To the world you are one person,
    But to one person you are the world!

    Reply
  2. Bette

    Thank you Denise, for this post. So many times it is hard to see outside of the surroundings. Something bigger is going on.

    I echo Sharon’s words: Thank you for all you do for each of us everyday–helping us do what we do, helping us to be able to look up (and around) vs. down.

    Francine, I love that quote–thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
  3. G-J

    I agree with all that was said above. Just because we don’t know we make a difference doesn’t mean that we don’t.

    Reply

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