Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Empathy and sympathy, both are words of emotions but they do mean something entirely different.
I was talking about this to a friend the other day in regards to CF. In my opinion, CF is a disease most everyone can empathize with. Not 100% of what CF can do to one can by empathized but a lot of it can.

Unlike cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc...unless you've had/have these you really don't know what if feels like or what it takes to live with it. So when people support the American Cancer Society, JDRF or American Heart Association, many do so because of sympathy. They sympathize for Aunt Jane who has cancer or Bobby with juvenile diabetes because they/me have never had cancer or diabetes.

But what about CF? Most of my supporters donate and help out because they sympathize with what Andrea is going through, but if they really thought about what CFers go through, they would realize how much they can actually empathize for them. And that's because...
  • Who hasn't gotten a cold where you're congested and having to hack up some nasty mucus.
  • If you've had bronchitis or pneumonia you know the feeling of finding it hard to breathe
  • Who hasn't felt gassy or bloated from eating certain things
  • Raise your hands if you've ever been constipated
These are things many CFers go through. I know Andrea goes through this and unfortunately more so the older she gets. CF is a progressive disease, so no matter how well you take care of yourself, CF will attack and try to set one back. There is where one can sympathize more vs. empathize because unlike a CFer, when we get sick we get better quicker and get sick less often. A CFer however has to follow a certain protocol everyday to keep from getting sick. And when they do get sick, everything gets increased or more gets added to the normal routine. There is no taking a break from CF.

So the next time you write a check for the CFF in honor of someone you know that has CF, remember that not only are you doing so with sympathy, but you're doing so with empathy as well. And perhaps, just perhaps...you'll add just few extra dollars to the total amount being donated. :)


  1. This is very well written and I hope you bring in a lot of money for CF. I am a nurse and took care of a lot of CF kids in the hospital in the 80s and those kids were amazing!!
    hugs to you...Caryl Wilson

  2. Thank you Caryl. It's kind of you to comment. Beside raising funds, my other goal is promoting awareness...this is just one other means of doing so. Take care. Susie