Posted by on Nov 14, 2011 in My Breast Cancer Journey, Think About This | 0 comments

The Value of Family and Love

My brother and I were born to two wonderful, loving, fun and supportive parents.  We were the only children and we have always been close, which is a blessing in both our lives.  We were raised in the church and had a good family life.  Our parents instilled in us appreciation and respect for all people.  They taught us about kindness and compassion.  My brother has always been a genuine, caring man and NEVER meets a stranger.  Our father passed away from a sudden heart attack when he was 61 years old.  Heart disease was heavy in his family background and he did well making it to age 61.  Our grandfather and two of our uncles all died from sudden heart attacks in their early 40s.  Our mother passed away from a stroke when she was 78.  We miss them both so much.  But we’re glad we have each other and our own families.  My brother was so supportive of me throughout my breast cancer journey.  He was there for all my surgeries, took me to most of my chemotherapy appointments and called and visited me frequently.  Since I was divorced and my two grown daughters lived out of state, I lived alone.  But, I NEVER FELT ALONE…EVER!

By directing our local United Way since 1984, I had a public life where I worked with many, many amazing volunteers, staff and agency representatives.  Working on community problems and issues draws you close together and truly caring for one another naturally evolves.  I’ve always felt that I was surrounded by many “chosen” family. During the months of surgeries and chemo treatment, my church family, and my natural & chosen families all reached out to me and walked every step of the path right with me.  I was and still am so very blessed.  I share this in my blog so that I can explain something so strong and powerful that God’s Holy Spirit put on my heart during these months and now years.  This lesson was simple  but so powerful to me that it became very important in my thoughts, prayers and actions.

I got hundreds of phone calls and cards and letters from people telling me they were praying for me.  Many of them shared that their church or Sunday School class was praying for me regularly…sometimes, people I didn’t even know.  Every time I heard or read this, I felt bathed in love and encouragement…by God and the people.  Then, it became overwhelming.  My surgeon even said to me one day, “You must know everyone in Iredell County because I can’t go anywhere without having people ask about you.”  We laughed about that.  I said it’s just because this is my hometown.

But the truth is this…I had so much love and caring.  It overwhelmed me in a way that I realized I needed to focus on people that were going through the same or similar thing as I was and some of them had no one to support them like I did.  It became quite important to me that I reach out to everyone with whom I came in contact and see them as a person I needed to share God’s love with.  Even having worked my adult life in a charitable problem-solving career, this new awareness was mind-blowing for me.  I was really, really sick during the chemo months and this “gift of awareness” that God gave me meant so much to me.  I saw it as another reason to fight like crazy to recover and get to work.

So I began to share this message with everyone and it was this:  Open your eyes and ears; put your antennae out and see the people who need us.  They are right in front of us and so often, we don’t recognize them.  I began to share this with people who would  call and they would return to their church and spread the message there.  I would meet other patients during chemo treatments, hospital visits and learn of their struggles and I found ways I could help them.  Even in my state, I found I could still help them.  Sometimes just by connecting them to someone else.  God uses us in so many different ways and He offers the connections that we could envision as a road map to get from point A to point B.  We just have to be aware the map is divinely there and be eager to make the trip.   Thank you, God, for our life lessons.

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