Just as our hearts began to reconcile that 2021 may just be 2020’s bigger and meaner sister, we were hit right in the feels to remind us that humanity is not doomed.

The past 10 months have been a doozy. We have had to adjust in ways we never imagined possible, and live life in near solitude just to keep us and our families safe.

Even within the small social bubbles we eventually became accustomed to, there is still a group of people who have to continue to be extraordinary solitary to ensure their survival.

That group is filled with patients fighting cancer.

Cancer is such a hard diagnosis, and leaning into your circle a little more closely is natural, but during the pandemic, leaning into people who do not reside in your house isn’t safe. The sadness that can creep in is unimaginable. Enter Dr. Omar Atiq. Dr. Atiq is an oncologist in Pine Bluff, Arkansas who gave his patients a holiday gift they could not believe. 

After closing his cancer center earlier in the year that shall not be named, Dr. Atiq decided he wanted to aid in his former patients’ financial hardships by forgiving their medical bills owed to the clinic. Dr. Atiq sent notice by way of holiday cards.

When all was said and done, Dr. Atiq had forgiven about $650,000 in medical bills. 

“The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to have you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for the majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome,” the card read. “The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays!”

Medical debt is a primary stress for many Americans, and the hefty amount of debt that comes with such a life-altering diagnosis like cancer can be astronomical. Any sort of reprieve in what can feel like an insurmountable mountain would be accepted with open arms. Dr. Atiq saw a need and looked out for his people.

We could all use a little bit of looking out for every once in a while. 

In a year that has brought many heartaches, hardships, and feelings of loneliness, taking a moment to appreciate the good things still happening can be a balm for a weary soul. The immense joy his patients must have felt is everything 2021 needed to be ushered in.

Good things are still happening friends. Prayers are still being answered. We are all still very much connected, even if it can’t be physically.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by TODAY (@todayshow)

Jacalyn Wetzel

Jacalyn is a mother of four, and the creator of the blog Stop Yelling Please. She writes about motherhood in a way that most can relate. Jacalyn’s passion is parenting and relating to parents who may be struggling with the day to day. She’s a speaker, author and Licensed Clinical Social Worker.