Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taking a chance...

I was walking in Trader Joe's this morning when I saw her.
The woman with a kerchief on her head.
I see them everywhere.
Women with kerchiefs covering bald heads and wrapped around puffy faces.

I saw one when I was at a store in Spain a couple of weeks ago.
It was a busy evening at a busy clothing store.
There she was - a kerchief on her head.
Sitting on a clothing display while the crowd jostled and pushed its way around her.
She looked tired. Exhausted. Like she would have been far more comfortable in bed.

I remembered my own exhaustion during chemo.
Wanting to get out of bed and do something.
Wanting to be out and about in the real world.
Going out. And then feeling wiped out. Always looking for a place to sit down.

When I was in that store in Spain, I wanted to go over to her and say something.
To give her a hug. To wish her well. To ask her name and tell her I would pray for her.
I didn't say anything to her, but I did pray for her. I continue to pray for her.
And I promised myself that I would not be so bashful going forward.
Life is too short and kanswer is too terrible for so many people to think they are in the battle alone.

When I saw the woman at Trader Joe's today, at first, I said nothing.
I walked past her and went on to gather goodies for my daughter's 20th birthday -
which is tomorrow... but that's a-whole-nother story for a-whole-nother day.

After throwing a few things into my cart, I circled back and approached her.
"I know it's none of my business, but are you going through kanswer?"
She said "yes." Her breast kanswer has metastasized to her brain and bones.
I told her that I have only recently come through my own kanswer battle and
I wanted to encourage her and wish her well on her journey.
Being the natural born weeper that I am, I cried while we spoke.
When I apologized for my tears, she said, "Don't worry about it."
We spoke for a few moments and then hugged each other.
I wished her well. She wished me well, as did her husband.
She thanked me for speaking to her.
I'm glad I took a chance and reached out to her.

One of my dear friends, when I told her about my Trader Joe's encounter, said, "God knew you were going to be there this morning, that you were going to see that woman, and that you would speak to her. You have no idea what effect your words will have on her. Your words could be part of her healing." I said I was a little nervous about approaching her because if I was wrong, she might feel bad that I thought she had kanswer. My friend said, "I don't think the Holy Spirit would have prompted you to speak to her if she didn't have kanswer." That's all I want - for this story of mine to matter in someone else's life.

This past weekend, my sister-in-law did the 60-mile breast kanswer walk down in Florida. She said she would have done it anyway, but when I was diagnosed, she was even more motivated to do the walk, to raise the money, and to increase breast kanswer awareness in her area. I wish I could have been down there to cheer her on as she walked. I'm grateful she took a chance, did all the training, and walked all those miles on behalf of kanswer survivors.

In honor of my sister-in-law's efforts, in gratitude for her efforts, I will do what I can here in Charlotte, here on the blog, on facebook, and everywhere I go to encourage others who are on this terrible, demanding, painful, life-altering journey. I'm grateful for every opportunity to use my story to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Kanswer sucks. But if I can ease the suckiness of it through a donation to Noemi's walk-a-thon, through the purchase of a few pink ribbons, through a few words of encouragement, a hug, and the shedding of tears in front of the greeting card display at Trader Joe's, then I'm going to take a lot more chances and reach out to many more women with kerchiefs.

1 comment:

Kate S said...

love you, Gail.