Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Not Worthy

I was walking behind a woman in a purple t-shirt at the Relay for Life when she exited the track towards a young girl who was obviously trying hard to fight back tears.  It was clear that those around her had done their best to comfort her until her mom arrived and pulled her into her arms. I have to admit that, for a second, I wished I had my camera, so I could capture the emotions of that young girls' face. It was clear that she needed her mom, and my heart went out to her. Of course, I didn't stop and snap a photo; I just kept going.

A little while later, I decided to check out the Beautiful Lengths/Locks of Love area, where people came to donate their long hair to be made into wigs for cancer patients.  Coincidentally, the same young girl was there, without tears; a look of pride and determination on her face, and a shirt to match her intent...


Her cute mom was standing nearby, lit up with a smile, and taking pictures. I explained that I have a blog and planned to post the before/after pictures. We made more small-talk, and being the nosy person I am, I asked, "Do you mind if I ask why she was crying earlier?  I noticed her when I was walking the track. It looked like she was pretty upset. Was she having second thoughts about cutting her hair?"  The mom smiled and shared that she is a fourth-month breast cancer survivor; her daughter had just been overwhelmed by the whole Survivors Lap experience.

It all made sense, then; the purple shirt is the Relay for Life cancer survivor's t-shirt color.

The mom and I continued to talk while the girl got her haircut. I told her that while I personally don't know anyone fighting cancer, I'm happy to participate in Relay for Life, because I know it makes a difference.  I shared that last night (just like last year), I really didn't feel like going to the relay; I had so many things to do, but people were expecting me, so I went and was so glad.  What people don't realize is that when you volunteer, you always get far more back than you put in. You might think that signing up for Relay for Life is going to be some big chore, but then you see those people in the first lap (The Survivors Lap) and find tears streaming down your face (whether or not you know any of the walkers!) and you know; you've just been given a gift.

The mom agreed wholeheartedly and told me, "You should tell people that on your blog!" I assured her that I have and will continue.  There is nothing like volunteering to make you feel like you really matter in this world; that you have a purpose and belong to something greater than yourself. The payoff for getting involved is far greater than anything you put into it.


After I took this adorable mother-daughter shot, I told the mom I'd be happy to mail the photos and the link to my post if she'd give me her email address.  She happily wrote it out for me and added her name to the bottom; Barbie Mleziva. As she handed it to me, she looked at me and smiled, saying, "It was so nice talking with you; you're inspiring."

Wow. What a wonderful thing to say to a perfect stranger!  I'm sharing this not to "toot my own horn" (as Mom would say) but because of what happened next...

A gentleman in the center of the gym called everyone over to hear the day's guest speaker, Barbie Mleziva! The mom whose ear I had just talked-off got up on the stage and took the mic. She shared her cancer journey; the discovery of the rare form of breast cancer, how it affected her family, and how she fought it. She remarked that her "50/50 chance" of survival grew to 70/30 because of people who help fight for a cure. She demonstrated a healthy sense of humor by modeling her new "front-end alignment" (a.k.a. boob job) and related how the experience of cancer is like a rollercoaster ride; one you finish out of breath, glad to be alive, and looking for a t-shirt that proclaims, "I survived!" This mother of four who's lived with cancer, had radical surgery, and fought courageously through it, who has raised a beautiful young daughter who happily had her hair chopped off for the cause, and who wears a big smile as she listens to strangers babble on called me inspiring.

I am not worthy...

[This post has been audio-recorded. A link can be found in the right-hand sidebar.]

27 comments:

  1. Beautiful. You are worthy. It is inspiring to me that you strive to connect with people all the time. Some people would not have given two thoughts to the little girl. You did. What an amazing experience and what an amazing woman Barbie is. So cool that you had this experience. They are such a gorgeous mother/daughter duo too. It makes my heart flutter.

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  2. You have me crying today..I remember that feeling being a part of Rely for life and emotional stories and sights of seeing a sea of survivor tshirts. Thank for sharing such a beautiful inspiring story.

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  3. Beautiful. Wow. I'm pulling for her.

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  4. Her story - and your post - is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing it!

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  5. Just got all caught up on your blog...I am sorry about Kyle's car ...I am certain things happen as they should ...I don't understand all of them and I think the relay for life is a wonderful experience for all people and everyone should be so humbled at times ...I think it was a lovely story I lost an Aunt to breast cancer in 1999 and 10 years later her daughter is fighting it ...I am so proud of the little girl she joins my brother and I in a wonderful group of hair givers!

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  6. Wiping away tears here. What a truly awesome experience...and I'm glad you went--you were meant to be there! ;-)

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  7. Barb, you most certainly are one of the "worthiest" individuals I know, via the blog scene! I apologize that I wasn't able this year to give towards your Relay for Life but finances have been really topsy-turvy here of late -more so than the usual, that is. Once I get my footing again though, I think I can still donate to your account, can't I?
    My family and I had participated in the past three years running with a team in the local Autism Walk and this year, because of my daughter's work schedule, as well as finances, we didn't even field a team. And I missed that walk, the camaraderie alone of being with so many other families who have autism as a resident in their lives is so uplifting to the spirit. And beside Autism, my other organization I prefer to support is any that deals with cancer research and help for patients. I am a cancer survivor who also lost both my parents to cancer, as well as an uncle and two aunts -so it, hits home to me just as autism does as my two younger grandchildren both have autism.
    Thanks again to you though for putting stories like this one, out there, for information and inspiration to all who read your blog! You do a fantastic job, Girlfriend!

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  8. What an incredible mother and daughter. The haircut is just as cute as a button. Stories like these really put things into perspective don't they? Thanks so much for bringing it to us.

    God bless and have the best day!!!

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  9. I just listened to the audio version. You have a good radio voice. Interesting idea of reading the post. I have not seen that before.

    You tell the story well and of course it's an inspiring story that you share.

    I linked an earlier post of yours (awkward family photos) to a recent post of mine. I assume you don't mind and probably get linked often. That's how I found your blog.
    all the best

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  10. What an great woman!! Thanks for introducing us to her.

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  11. You have me crying!!! Ack! I lost my Mom to lung cancer back in 2008. It was a long and painful battle for both my Mom and my family. Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen are amazing organizations! It swells my heart when I hear stories of survivors!!! And do blog about it!!! Make women and men AWARE!!! Early detection!!! If you don't feel right... GET CHECKED OUT!
    Thanks for sharing this... I'm off to find a tissue now! :)

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  12. Great story. What a gracious cancer survivor that woman is and the picture of her with her daughter is full of love. And you got to be part of that.

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  13. Inspiring story for sure, and one that could have been missed if you hadn't been "so nosy" ha ha. Great following those nudges. There are miracles waiting to be seen every day, and we most often miss them. God used you to give people hope... That haircut is adorable on her, and the inner beauty shines through too. Awesome!

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  14. Simply amazing and what a wonderful story to experience. 2 of my girls have donated to locks of love and a 3rd is getting ready to. Luckily, they never had any intention in mind more than making that donation.

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  15. Of course your worthy! You must be an easy person to talk to in person, which makes people feel comfortable and then when you talk you do inspire!

    Wonderful post, got me teary-eyed! My MIL faught breast cancer and has been cancer-free for 8 years! I like positive stories like these!

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  16. Damn, that is so cute! And sweet! And how cute is the little girl after her hair cut?
    I'll label all 3 of you inspirational!!!

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  17. Yep, that was a very tear worthy post. Very cute and very inspirational!

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  18. Glad you went! What a wonderful experience. That's interesting you were talking to the speaker and didn't even know it.

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  19. That must have been a humbling AND amazing experience-and yes, my dear, you ARE worthy; you have no idea.

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  20. What a touching and momentous experience! Wow!

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  21. Just wonderful. People can be so darned wonderful and you are one of those wonderful people.

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  22. What a great story. Totally inspiring!

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  23. What a beautiful story!! While I didn't get to connect personally at the Race for the Cure, I most definitely got emotional when a woman who appeared to be my age passed by me in the Survivor's Pink Parade- she had her 2 children with her. They were about the same age as my kids. I choke up now thinking of her.

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  24. Just...wow. You are worthy, by the way.

    Amazing experience, amazing ladies. Thanks for sharing it!

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  25. This is the first i read (heard) this story Barb. What a blessing indeed. I would love to go with you next time! Mary

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