Friday, October 29, 2010

Aiden


Location, Unknown - I have a 5-year-old son. Every day I tell him that he is wonderful. Extraordinary. Special. Amazing. He and his sisters know they are the reasons I smile. And breathe. It’s just how I feel about my kids. The people I really love in my life say exactly the same things about their kids.

A handful of my friends have kids who have walked in Aiden’s shoes. Aiden is 5 years old, too. Just like my little man. But sweet little Aiden’s shoes are walking him chemo treatments for his leukemia. Aiden’s parents are much like other people I’ve met as I travel – the cost of the treatment is and will be increasingly devastating on the family.

Aiden’s parents have an interesting idea, and one I would like to encourage you to consider. Aiden likes to draw pictures of monsters. He’s quite a fan-tas-tic-o little artist, I think. You can go out and take a peek at his work, and then buy one if you like. They are quite a bargain, considering the fact that your investment will look nice in a frame on your wall or just on your fridge whilst having the added bonus of saving a little kids life. Sweet, huh?

So peruse his work. Maybe buy a monster for your Halloween d├ęcor! aidforaidan.wordpress.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

She ...


Everywhere, USA - ... has nothing whatsoever in common with me, I thought as she sat down beside me. She has no idea that I am the keynote speaker here and we are on the opposite sides of the spectrum in every instance, I would guess. Her hair; perfectly coiffed, down to the last strand. Me, um, not so much. Need a cut, and badly. Her clothing; high end, and again, perfect down to the last pleat and ironed and starched cuff. Me, been traveling. A lot. Wrinkle-free black pantsuit, standard. Her makeup; flawless. Me, mascara, check. Chapstick. That’s all she wrote. Her shoes; Cole Haan black patent oxford pumps. This season’s, even. (Come on, a girl notices these things!) Me; I’d be 6’9” in those things. Keep dreaming. Her Mercedes is parked next to my little car that juuuuuust barely made the drive. HA!

So there we sit, right next to each other. Worlds apart. Then, as always, I start a conversation. Two minutes, that’s all it takes. She had cancer. Full mastectomy. Family history of ovarian cancer, to boot. With the exception of my pregnant-during-treatment nonsense, we are right on the same page as far as surgeries and the bad hand dealt to us by the dealers in the big genetic card game of life.

So yes, our lives are worlds apart. Shall be forever, is my guess. But under her starched expensive tailored suit and under my wash-n-wear travel gear, we have scars in the same spots. And our hearts, while a bit shredded by chemo, still have a strong desire to keep on pumping. Circumstances have placed us at the same table (or God winking, as my boss would say) and so we begin the conversation. That leads us to realize how very much we have in common, and that the other stuff is just stuff and doesn’t matter.

We leave with a hug. And me envying only one thing – those sweet kicks. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pinking of Delta


HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA - For the record, Delta Airlines is not a sponsor of the Vera Bradley Foundation. Just want to get that out of the way lest you think this is some odd product placement gimmick. :)

So October means I get to meet many, many (many!!!) wonderful people on the road. And, as a sad little counterpoint, leave some sweet little people behind at the same time. I am busy in October with speaking engagements, running all over trying to help get donations and sponsors across the nation.

This means I pick up the pace with my flying this time of year. I find myself most often on Delta flights, and this makes me kind of happy. I see a subtle way for their employees to show those of us that are patients and survivors that they care about us and are thinking about us.

I've found that everyone wearing a hint of pink at Delta will also very readily tell you why they are wearing it, too. From the fuchsia ties to the tidy little scarves - pilots, ticket agents, everyone is willing to take an extra minute and share the stories of their aunts, mamas, sisters, wives, even brothers.

I like this. I like that they don't jam it down your throat and force you to acknowledge or donate - it's simply a quiet and dignified statement as a tribute to someone in their lives that has been affected. I really enjoy the moments that they have shared with me, these Delta folks. I really like their big pink plane, although I've never gotten to ride in it (boooo!).

So thanks, big D, for pinking yourselves. Feel free to consider this an open invite to call me about sponsorship, too, honey. ;). (Seriously. (260) 438-8553. Or just look around. Odds are I'm sitting in one of your seats as you read this.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Her Shoes


FORT WAYNE, INDIANA/INDIANAPOLIS/ILLINOIS - "No, no, no, no. I'm fine, really. I don’t need anything. Don’t worry." I said to Debbie. She was one of a handful of people who called me regularly during my chemo treatments. That particular day she was just checking in, to see how things were. I sounded blue last time she had called, and she was worried. "I'm tired, Deb. More so than I can express. So tired I can't even take the kids to the park to play on the swing set, and that’s only five minutes away."

That’s all she needed to hear. The following morning, she shows up at my door with our friend Lilly. Their mission: take the kids to the park. Maybe a little hide-and-go-seek, for good measure. Perhaps a bit of help with housecleaning. The things most of us would never dream of asking for, even when we really need it.

These are the kind of friends that can make even something like cancer bearable. Tolerable. Possible. They ignore you totally when you say things like "Don’t come" or "I don’t need anything" or "Does this wig make me look totally goofy?" and just do what they know in their hearts that you need. They made dinners for my babies, played games with them, cleaned my kitchen.

They brought a cake to my last day of chemo, and turned the infusion center into a huge party - who does that? What kind of people can pull that off? I can identify them for you. Other people come first, in their hearts. They feel strongly inclined to make people feel good when it might otherwise seem impossible. All three of the people shown above (their shoes are featured, as they helped me walk my cancer journey) have had hardships and challenges in their lives, but continue to give and show love.

Every time I meet a new cancer patient - and let me tell you, that happens at least 5 times a week - I pray that they have a Debbie, a Lilly or an Anne in their lives. During this month for breast cancer awareness, please know that there are so many gals like me out there, struggling with treatment. And while I know almost no one can be just like my friends, I still would like to hold them up as inspiration for anyone who wants to help.

Get out there. Find someone who needs a helping hand, a simple gesture, a small act of kindness. In other words, ignore your friends. Tell them to hush and just go do something you know they want but won't admit. I can promise you everyone walking that journey will benefit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October


WORLDWIDE! - Quick sister, get the pink out and run around so everyone can see you are supporting the cause! Just kidding, most of you already show your support all year round. I just wanted to say a quick hello to everyone out there who does the extra push this month to celebrate survivors and gently think of those who have come before us. You are walking, running, baking, selling, eating yogurt and just a plethora of other things in the ferocious drive to find a cure and support the warriors in battle. Thank you, my dear ones. Thank you for being diligent, for the perseverance and tenacity for those of us who have had it, for those who just found out the have it, and for those little ones that we don’t want to ever have it. Fight on, everyone. And fight hard!