A young man was in line in front of me this morning. He was talking to the cashier about his next round of chemotherapy.
I noticed his bald head, with just a hint of stubble, and a large, U-shaped scar on the right side.
I had two choices: Stay silent or talk.
"Which chemo are you taking?" I asked.
He turned in my direction, unaware that I had overheard.
"It's in pill form," he said. "Temodar."
I nodded. "My husband had brain cancer. He took that, too."
"How is he?" the young man asked.
(That's why silence is often the choice -- because you don't necessarily want to tell someone currently fighting cancer that your experience with cancer doesn't have a happy ending. And it's why I should start using the phrase "late husband" with greater ease.)
I told him that my husband had passed away.
We kept talking. About surgeons, steroids, radiation, oncologists (he sees the same doctor at UT-SW that Steve did). We talked about his most recent clean scan and his next scan, scheduled next month.
I asked for his name. I told him that I would pray for him and his family.
He asked for my name. And he asked how he might pray for me. I blinked back tears, taken off guard that this stranger with a most ferocious tumor would even ask, and told him that I couldn't think of a thing.
He told me that his brain cancer is more difficult on his wife than it is on him.
"Seeing what she goes through," he said, the rest of his words unspoken.
And then he added, "It's making her stronger."
I nodded in agreement.
This young couple has a 2-year-old daughter. The same age as Katie when Steve was diagnosed.
I wished him good luck, and we said goodbye.
As I prayed for Ryan today, I also prayed that I made the right choice in speaking instead of staying silent.