We all know about the terror that has struck Boston. Two bombs exploded near at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and seriously injuring over 150 other individuals!

One of the dead was an eight-year-old child. I know when I heard about the death of the child I prayed that this boy was not one of the survivors of the Sandy Hook (CT.) shooting. The marathon was dedicated to the victims of the school shooting and many of the survivors and their families were at the finish line. The name of the child has been released, so we don’t know if in fact he was connected to the shootings.

All of us Americans, actually all the people of the world, are affected by this incident and the many other incidents of terror through out the world. There comes a time in our quest for our personal survival from this beast, advanced prostate cancer, that we need to take a pause and reflect on the terror that lurks in the world. Terror that affects us and every individual walking on earth.

Our freedom comes at high cost. We need to not to waste a drop of it. We need to find ways of using our resources to achieve real, valuable goals. Goals that include our living longer and with a better quality of life and goals that include supporting others in their individual quest to do the same.

In the midst of our own tragedy there are things we can do to in the face of horrific attack.

Feel the victims pain personally; it is all of our pain. Empathize with other people’s pain; it helps us to be more connected with others, to be more human.

When I first heard of the bombings I immediately related. I went to college for two years at Boston University and my wife was born and brought up just outside the city. As much as New York is, Boston is also a city of mine. I thought of a few friends who might have been running in the marathon and I immediately reached out to them to make sure they were safe. This immediately connected me to the people in the city. This connectivity binds us together as people and helps ensure we’re sensitive to other people’s pain.

Find ways to help, this allows us all to connect with the pain of others. By reaching out to others with aid we feel connected with our fellows who are in pain. This can take the form of personal aid or even to simply pray on their behalf. For many individuals simply reciting Psalms can lend strength to the victims, it helps empower our families and us too, as we decide about for ways to help.

Do good in memory of the victims and their families. What can we do for the victims who died in the Boston attacks? It really doesn’t matter what you do just do something. Doing some good in the name of those who have been injured or died elevates their memory and helps us spread goodness in their names.

Answer despair with hope. As we all know life is a journey and none of us know what is around the bend. Horrific events like the Sandy Hook shootings, the bombing in Boston and being diagnosed with cancer baffle us and leave us wounded. But what happens next is entirely up to us. How we choose to respond is simply decided by us alone. Our response to a tragedy will determine what happens next, so find a way to see the seed of hope in these horrific events.

If you allow it these events can lead us to become better people. We need to ask ourselves what we can do in the face of a tragedy. We too can think deeply about our response: we too can try to live better – to build a better community, to lead more deeply-considered lives – as a way to honor each other.

As all of us cancer survivors have come to know don’t take life for granted, no matter what tragedy you face. Use the Boston attacks as a pause to take some time to sit and consider your own life: realize how precious life is for us all. In this paused moment of life, take some time to think about your life and to plan how you wish to live the rest of your life, no matter how long or short it turns out.

Use this tragedy by finding the positive as each second in our lives is precious, and it’s up to us to use them well.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.