Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Angel A and Angel B, Alaina and Becca

Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own. ~Adam Lindsay Gordon

As I have said to you before, cancer sucks and takes so greedily and coldheartedly.  Thankfully, so much of my blog is filled with the tender gifts and Angels that arrived for me on this path, with such awesome abundance that cancer's cruel losses were no match for.

I'd like to introduce you to the newest Angels in my life, two Novato High students, and their lovely teacher Ms. Evans.  Ms. Evans' freshman health class made felt blankets for cancer patients.  I was the recipient of the blanket made by two beautiful girls in her class, Alaina and Becca.  Here's a photo taken of them, making the blanket which several months later would be mine.

My Angels, A and B, Alaina and Becca

Enclosed with the blanket were two thoughtful letters, written by each girl.

When Becca wrote her letter in early January of this year, her 15th birthday was coming soon, and she was very excited about it!  Her letter was decorated with all kinds of doodles of a cake and balloons and a little house; she said she had lived in the same house her whole life.  Becca is a dancer and a baker and loves to shop, listen to music (she drew a little ipod too) and make up dances to her favorite songs.  She wrote that making the blanket made her feel really good inside because she wants to help other others, and really enjoys bringing a smile to someone's face.

I don't know what you're going through, and I might not ever will, but I've known people who had cancer before, and after that they became stronger than ever.  They seemed a lot happier all the time and that's one thing they had advantage over everyone else.  I feel really thankful for my life, but I could never feel the way they feel.  Please write back, I'd love to hear from you, your friend, Becca 

In her typed letter, pasted to pink paper and decorated, Alaina wrote she is fourteen, and "an open, nice and funny girl."  She loves the beach, mountain biking, basketball and gymnastics.  Her favorite movie is Pirates of the Caribbean, and she loves to watch the Disney Channel to feel like a kid again.  Her favorite book is "The Penguin who Hated the Cold."

I like writing to you cause I want to show how I love to make sure the little things, like this letter, make you know how much I care.  I would love to hear back from you cause then we could talk more.  Enjoy this blanket cause u deserve it more than anyone I know.  Please write back, I'd love to hear from you.  Sincerely, Alaina

I loved the blanket, but their letters are what really touched me.  It was apparent how much love and concern and hope they had put into the making of my blanket.  I had to find them.  All I knew is that they were Novato High students, and their first names.

I received the blanket the week before my speech, sent by Kimberly from the Fairfield office of ACS.  I was so busy getting ready for the speech, and Robin's 8th grade graduation, I forgot about calling the school, and then was worried they were already out for the summer!  I didn't want to wait until next Fall to meet these girls.

I called Novato High School last week, and they were still in session!  Yippee!!!  I was given the email of the teacher for the class, Ms. Stephanie Evans.  I wrote her, explaining who I was, and that I'd like to come and surprise Alaina and Becca.  Ms. Evans was thrilled, and we arranged for me to come on Monday morning, June 13, right after her class had taken their final.  I couldn't wait.

That morning Robin drove with me, about 45 minutes from where we live to Novato High.  I was so excited and nervous and happy.  So was Robin.  We waited in the school office until Ms. Evan's teacher's assistant came to bring us to class.  The students had already been told that they had a surprise visitor, but nothing else.  I guess they were all excited, and teacher too!

As you all know, the week before I gave an almost hour long speech to over 400 people and except for a little choking up here and there, and as nervous as I was, my courage really kicked in that day!  This visit was different for me, up close and personal.  As soon as I walked into that classroom, and saw all those faces, the same age as Robin who will be a freshman this upcoming school year, I felt a huge wave of emotion come over me.

I knew I'd have to say again the words "I am a breast cancer survivor."  I am a year out from diagnosis, and almost six months out from treatment, and I am still trying to wrap my blond brain around that.  It's one thing to soldier through all that hard hard stuff.  It's another to come out the other side, and stand before people and say it out loud, and hear yourself say it out loud.  I am a breast cancer survivor.

There are some days the whole cancer thing and everything I went through still knocks the shit out of me.

It did in those moments as I sat in front of Ms. Evans class, as they waited for me to speak.  I had all kinds of things I planned to say, about the power of random acts of kindness, and doing good in the world, and that good had found its way back today.  I had all kinds of things that I was going to say.

None of it happened, well not in the beginning.  I opened my mouth and the tears started to flow.  See for yourself.

It may be hard for you to tell that I gave each of the girls a program from the Survivors Event, that had a page profiling me as the keynote speaker.  I also bought each a rope charm bracelet, with their first charm on it, a silver pink ribbon with a small pink rhinestone, to remember me.

I was able to get it together, of course after Robin stopped filming, and talked to the class and answered questions.  One sweet girl raised her hand and simply said "Can I just say you are like my favorite person right now."

My visit ended with several of them, even the boys, coming up to hug me, pat me, and reaffirm how much it meant to all of them that I had come.  One smiling and thoughtful girl hugged me and said "Even though you came to meet Alaina and Becca, it means a lot to me too that you came all this way to thank them.  We don't often hear back or know who received what we made.  Thank you.  You are an inspiration."

It really drove home the point that none of us are strangers, when we are connected by love and gratitude.  Becca visited my blog not long after the visit, and posted a comment:

hi this is becca from novato high! I'm really really glad you came in today to meet me and alaina you made me feel so amazing!I never knew I could make such a difference in someones life!Im very thankful that you received my blanket and my letter:)I'm going to start reading your blog I hope alaina does too...your story has really moved me since Ive known some people who had cancer too..thank you for taking the time to meet me!

To Alaina and Becca,
You have my heart,
I will never forget you,
and I hope you never forget what it was I was trying to say to you, through all my tears.

In your life there is no greater thing you can give than your heart, and no greater accomplishment than helping others.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia 

You touched me in a big big way.  Thank you.

Ms. Evans, the girls beautiful teacher

Standing between Angel A and Angel B

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ~Scott Adams


Kimberly said...

I'm so glad I chose that specific blanket to give to you. I thought it was so pretty & it oozed with love & kindness (like you). I can see in the video how truly touched the students were. I always say," there are no strangers just friends we haven't met yet". This is my first post after reading your blog a year. I was crying right along with you while watching the video. Just confirms that you were the perfect recipient.

"No act of kindness
no matter how small...
is ever wasted.".

- Aesop

Kimberly said...

Forgot to say thank you to Alaina & Becca for making the beautiful blanket. Thank you to Ms. Evans & the other students for making & donating the blankets to the American Cancer Society. We will be giving more blankets to cancer patients at our upcoming Relay For Life. From my experience with working with cancer patients, it's the "little things" that can make a cancer patients day. Interacting with cancer patients has taught me a lot. I try to be positive, hopeful, uplifting, supportive & helpful. The truth is I get strength from them. The human spirit is so amazing & resilient. I lost my best friend of 26 years to cancer 3 years ago. I try to treat each patients as if she was my best friend. Every patient IS someone's best friend, sister, wife, daughter. If you know a Survivor, give them a hug. No one knows the hell a cancer patient goes through unless they've been through it themselves.

Kimberly said...

Came across a saying today. Thouhgt I'd share.

Who matters,
Who never did,
Who won't anymore...
And who always will.
So, don't worry about people from your past,
There's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.


writergirldreams said...

Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly, you are such a doll! I love you Lady. You are an incredible ambassador for the American Cancer Society, I hope they realize what a rare gem they have in you.

You must know I have used so many of the fabulous quotes you've shared with me, in all those cards and letters sent my way. I have your latest card hanging on my bulletin board; I glance at it every day.

Yes Husband loved that hat! Both you and your Mama are the bomb!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all the ways you supported me during treatment, and continue to do so as I step into survivorship!

Thank you for commenting on the blog too, wow, 3 comments on one post! Please come back and comment again. I always love hearing what you have to say.

love love love to you Lady.

Deb (writergirl)

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