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.

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