Location: Houston, Texas
I feel so humbled and grateful to be a cancer survivor. And the fact that I not only get to be here to celebrate life’s moments big (Noah and Leigha’s upcoming wedding) and small (a Saturday morning walk with David) is something I do not take for granted. So just surviving – when so many do not – and getting to twice vanquish the Big C is enough. I am thankful. I know so many people who aren’t as fortunate (two of whom have been profiled in this blog) and I get that fate has been kind to me.
It seems like an embarrassment of riches, then, to get to do what I do and make such sweet lemonade out of my cancer lemons. Thanks to cancer, I finally have the public speaking career I always hoped would be part of my future. I get to inspire and advocate and educate and most of all just share my story and my love of life and my humor with all sorts of audiences. I love the platform that cancer has given me and the patient advocate and motivational speaker roles that now have me crisscrossing the country. And one of the things I most appreciate about all of this public speaking and traveling is when I get to cross paths with folks whom I was meant to meet.
Last night I did a PowerPoint presentation in a private dining room at an upscale Houston restaurant for medical providers and staff who wanted to learn more about the why underlying the importance of hereditary cancer genetic testing. One of the servers approached me after the dinner and told me that her mother died a few years ago of pancreatic cancer. She had no idea that pancreatic cancer can be linked to genetic mutations and she will now get tested. She apologized for listening to the talk as much as she did while she was working (I told her no apology was necessary) and that she found it really engaging. She also told me, with tears in her eyes, that she is glad I am doing so well.
I love meeting people – on a walk, in a restaurant, on a flight – that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet. I especially love when something meaningful and good comes of our serendipitous meeting. The fact that this lovely young woman could wish me well and genuinely be glad that I survived cancer when the Big C was not as kind to her mother touched me. Crossing paths with her and seeing how strong and positive she is in the wake of losing her mother at such a young age was so inspiring. She told me that she is working hard and still trying to make her momma proud. Thanks to our paths crossing, she will now get the screening and medical management she needs to ensure she is doing all she can to prevent cancer.
And I got to give her a hug and tell her that her mom would be oh so proud of her.