The "C" Word: Are you Salve or Sandpaper?

The C Word

To say Tuesday was a difficult day is an understatement.  My mother is my best female friend (hubby is best friend in the world) and we were steamrolled by the news that she has cancer.


It strikes fear in the heart of everyone I know although most think it happens to everyone else, or just the very aged, never them!

And yet, here it is. 

People who wax prolific at such news are foreign to me because there is nothing I can say.  Well, I take that back, I have another word I CAN and do say.

It is another “C” word despised by many.  I have had friends who chastize me for saying I'm a Christian here on this blog.  And indeed, every time I do, a few readers get rid of their subscription.

And yet, I have to worry about hatred from the kind of person who closes their ears to the belief of another.  I certainly subscribe to the blogs of atheists, liberals, radicals, conservatives…for one to say that they cannot learn from someone with a different belief system is the epitome of arrogance.

And yet, it is to this word, this despised word by many and misunderstood word by others that I turn.

Mom and I and our whole family — we are Christians and to the rock from where we are hewn is where we turn in this time:  Jesus Christ.

Right now, we are waiting to see if the oncologist's appointment in Augusta, GA could be moved up from the November 25th date that seems too far in the distance for us.

Yes, these are the times that try our souls, and yet, the family who pulls together, loves one another and encourages each other and puts their faith in the Truth will prevail, no matter the outcome.

Share the Websites that Help

Now, I'm looking to see the best online sites for supporting cancer patients and their families.  We all have a lot to learn, and if we must go down this path, then I know that there are those who may benefit somehow although right now I cannot think about it.

Salve or Sandpaper
I can only just ponder the principle of the Salve or Sandpaper.

You see, as I've suffered through the past week with this secret pain, I've come across TWO types of people.  Yes, and only two.

I have this wound that others cannot see and there are those who, through their unkind, selfish, raw behavior are like sandpaper on the wound.  Being around them on the twittersphere, blogosphere, or in person just makes it worse.  They are sandpaper. 

And then, there are those people, like Lisa Durff, who have always been kind and encouraging to me.  They are like angels in human form who spread kindness and encouragement.

Like the person on twitter last night who was attending a “not so great” keynote and said that her mother told her to leave if she couldn't say anything nice (salve) versus the people who proceeded to lambast a stranger's reputation. (sandpaper)  (I'm leaving out names to protect the incriminated.)

There are times I've been sandpaper.  Like the time I blogged about a horrible vendor in anger (I pulled the post) or got mad at someone and sent a flaming tweet.  Sure, the blogosphere can be a very hurtful place with people judging the intent and heart of another with no grounds. 

Sometimes, when I'm having a tough time, the sandpaper gets to me and makes me want to hibernate.  I figure if I'm not anywhere, then I won't come in contact with the sandpaper.

And yet, I take this away:  I want to be the salve and if I'm alone, I can't do that for others.

  • I want to be the person who helps the teacher get through another day and remember the nobility of their calling
  • I want to be the person who encourages parents and teachers to give that misunderstood child with the learning disability a fair chance at life. 
  • I want to be the person who spreads good and does good things for others… not for anyone to know about it, but because this world is a better place when people are kind and loving and do the right thing.
  • I want to work to civilize these new frontiers of technology and help them be put to wise uses in ways that build bridges between cultures that we've allowed society and extremists to separate.
  • I want to work to build the bridges today that the youth of tomorrow will walk across.
  • To see that using technology isn't about fear, panic, and confusion but can reach kids so that we can be a well educated, successful, and moral society tomorrow.

This life is short and it isn't about any one of us.  But I believe with all of my heart in the purpose of life.  Your life.  My life.  Mom's life.

I have a purpose and a dream.  A purpose to make a difference in education and classrooms.  A dream to write books and blog posts that will improve the lives of others, a dream I first penned in a journal when I was 12 years old.

And now, I have many more reasons to push towards those dreams, because you see, my Mom is more than salve, she is my supporter. 

She binds up the wounds, heals with her words of kindness, and softly pushes me forward to do and be more than I could have been otherwise.

She (and God) was the powering force that pushed my father, a small town farmer, to become president of one of the most powerful farmer's organizations on earth, the American Soybean Association.  She said

“I saw greatness in him and knew he was meant to be more than just a farmer in a small town.”

And he is, and was.  He was “green” way back when people thought it was what you were when you're nauseous and led the charge for things like Soy ink that are in our world today.

And she has done the same for me.  She has always told me she sees greatness in me and knows that I'm meant to be more than just a teacher in a small town.

Don't get me wrong: being a teacher and a mother and a wife:  that is enough and I'm content.

And yet, I push further through her support.

Which will you be:  Sandpaper, or Salve and Supporter?

So, my question to you is this. 

When you look at the people in your classroom, do you realize that they have hidden hurts in their hurting hearts of which you know not?

Do you know that you have a huge, enormous power?

Will you be the sandpaper that sucks the joy from the marrow of life with your cantankerousness and fussiness?

Or will you be the salve that encourages and helps others?

Will you be so selfish that you only see your problems and don't realize that other people are having tough times right now too?

And if you're choosing to be the salve, are you going to seek out those who are different from others and need your encouragement to be more and become their supporter?  Are you going to help people be more and do more and make the world a better place?

The Pain
The last few months has been incredibly tough.  In addition to “pot shots” of the most mean and callous nature that seem to come my way, I guess because I have a blog, there have been other, private hurts.

Whether it is the struggle to get my students to Qatar against the tide of public opinion that say I'm a bad person for believing that a conference of students from around the world in today's society can actually be done.

Or the person who tells me that I'm wrong for ever leaving my classroom to share with others.

Or the person who calls the computer guy down the street to tell them where we should go with technology when I might actually know a little bit on that subject.

Life is full of hurts.

It drives me crazy to see the downright incivility and childish behavior from BOTH political parties in the US presidential election.  YES, both.  I'm ready for it to be over if just so the ads and the snarky comments in the twittersphere will cease with everyone deifying their candidate and demonizing the other guy (or gal.) 

I am ashamed of the behavior of many in the news media and politics and yet, I am proud to be an American because I know that mudslinging has unfortunately, long been part of politics, but we have a political system where I can go vote safely and when all is said and done,  that we will move forward no matter which candidate is elected.

It is tough because my husband is an engineer for a company dependant upon the automotive business.  You can guess the stress happening there.

Whine or Win?
And yet — there is a little difference and yet all the difference in the world between Whine and Win.

And this life, short though it may be, I wasn't put on this planet to whine… I was put here to win. 

You weren't put on this planet to whine, you were put here to win!!!

For me, I win not through my own ability, for truly, I am nothing, but through a plan and a Man greater than I am who has his eye on me and authored history.

And I take great joy that when He came to this earth, that He asked His friends to call him …


I still believe it is the most noble calling on earth.

I covet your prayers and encourage you to go call your parents and tell them you love them… they don't last forever.

Never miss an episode

Get the 10-minute Teacher Show delivered to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit
Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

All Posts »


L Winebrenner October 30, 2008 - 10:39 pm

Know that you are in many thoughts and prayers, even those who do not post a comment here. We appreciate everything you do through the edublogosphere, sharing your techspertise, experiences, tweets, and casts.

Keep your faith. What you are going through, your faith will be there, and if you lose some subscribers, then so be it. Their loss, not yours. Like you, we need your “salve” commenters and followers, not the “sand paper” commenters and followers.

As far as sites to recommend, I am not sure where to start because you didn’t say what type of cancer. Start with the American Cancer Society and select the type of cancer: They even have support links for teens. We cannot forget the children who have a need to know, even when the grownups don’t have all of the answers.

So know that we are keeping you, your family, your students (f2f and online) in our thoughts and prayers. You are a winner, a mentor to many, and an amazing multitasker!

I am assuming that you are coming to MCG Cancer Center here in Augusta. If you need anything while you are here, please let me know, even if you just need a break and a cup of coffee.

Keep being the salve and keep on blogging!! I echo Vicki’s words about your parents…if you still have them, and all of your children by birth or by inherited community, and execute a random act of kindness. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift which is why we call it the present.

Dianne October 30, 2008 - 11:23 pm


My heart goes out to you! You and your mother will be in my prayers. I want to tell you that my mother always said that if you can’t say anything nice–don’t say anything at all. I try to live by that motto.

Also, I am proud of you for taking a stand for Jesus. Being a Christian is an important decision and being able to tell people about it–even moreso! Keep it up girl. You are the best. Dianne Anderson

C-Lowe October 31, 2008 - 12:46 am

I’ve been lurking around your blog for some time now and have really enjoyed all the insight and tools that you provide. Thank you for your openness and transparency. I prayed for you just now — for strength and for opportunities that this new challenge might give you to reach others with the good news of Christ. I also prayed for your mother’s healing. God bless you for all you do.

Louise Maine October 31, 2008 - 2:35 am


You know I owe you so much for leading the way and how you model the way we should be to others has been another inspiration.

I can only imagine the cruelty that comes your way (especially from the blogosphere) and wonder what people are thinking. Life is way to short. You cannot judge another unless you have walked in their shoes.

I am sorry to her about your mother. My mom had breast cancer and the outcome has been good. I understand the hole in the heart, your insides bottoming out, and a world spinning out of control. You have other stresses that are adding to it all that cannot make anything easy.

The Lord only gives us what we can handle. You are proving your higher calling as you continue to teach the hard lessons despite the agony.

Leslie October 31, 2008 - 2:59 am

I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and have learned so much from you. I must confess that I am a lurker. I am very touched with this entry. The earthly lives of both my parents ended because of cancer. I, too, am a Christian and found that the Lord is so gracious to all during our good and bad times.

Trials such as what you and your family are experiencing now reminds me of Daniel and the trials he faced. God either delivers us from the trial and our faith is built, or delivers us through the trial and our faith is refined, or delivers us by the trial and our faith is perfected.

Please know that I pray that you will feel our Father’s peace in the storm, peace in the wait, peace in the tears and peace in His plans for you and your family.

Vicki A. Davis October 31, 2008 - 2:40 am

@L winebrenner – If you are up there, I’d love to email you offline w/ a question — coolcatteacher at gmail dot com. Thank you so much for being salve for me!

Diane, Clowe and louise — thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts — reading these comments today has really meant a lot to me.

Karyn Romeis October 31, 2008 - 10:34 am

No clever words, Vicki. I dread the day I hear news like this about my own Mom, so all I have to say is:


blatantbibliophiles October 31, 2008 - 12:45 pm

I loved this article and I love your blog. This is such an important philosophy and one which many teachers forget when dealing with students. We often forget how much we can help or harm each other by what we say and do. I will remember you and your mother in my prayers. Ruth Fleet, library media specialist, Creekview High

Kim Clayton October 31, 2008 - 4:35 pm

Vicki-You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time; keep your faith and remain positive, as this will make all of the difference in the world. I appreciate all of your insights so much; I am learning so much every day.

Kim Clayton (with Estie Cuellar) at Spring Woods in Houston

Dal November 12, 2008 - 4:24 am


I will certainly be praying for you and your mother and thank you so much for your stand for Christ.

My own mother was diagnosed with cancer approximately 12-13 years ago and we were incredibly frightened. This was heightened by the fact that we let time elapse since the doctor told us that the lump was nothing to worry about. After waiting, it was finally checked and yes it was cancer.

The great news is that she has been completely healed and has been cancer-free for around 12 years.

I obviously do not know what the outcome of your mothers circumstances will be. I also know that cancer is incredibly frightening, but I know that God will see you and your family through this incredibly difficult time if you continue to place your faith and trust in Him.

Dal Archer
Kellyville Public Schools

Comments are closed.

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
Update Required Flash plugin