Here’s the beginning of the Journey – https://theinflightlife.com/cancer-interrupts-life/
Kindness makes an impact.
One lesson I have learned on this cancer journey is that kindness comes from a plethora of people.
Let me tell you a secret: I’m an introvert.
You might ask, how does an introvert become a flight attendant. Well, that’s easy. I guess I’m called an “extroverted-introvert” or an ambivert. I am able to socialize and be gregarious when I need to be (like for work or volunteering), but if given the choice, I’d stay home most nights. I’m going to be that flight attendant who is a “slam-clicker.” You know the one who gets to a layover and rather than hitting the layover spot with everyone goes to her room locks the door to recharge.
Over the last 15 years, I have spent the majority of my time at home. I built a small web design business while I raised my kids. It was perfect! I was home for everything and really didn’t need to be out socializing on a daily basis. I volunteered in my church and at the high school but you usually could find me at home in front of a computer.
In December, before I found out my diagnosis, I took my daughter to get her hair cut. The friend doing her hair was a single mom who was scheduled for an unexpected surgery in the next few days. She talked about how her tribe was really there to support her and that she had friends that were going to help her through the recovery. I sat there listening and the thought in my head was, “I sure hope I don’t go through something like that. I don’t have a tribe to help us.” In fact, I honestly believed that I didn’t have a lot of friends because I have a small group of girlfriends (2 or 3) that do not drain my introverted energy sources. Well, that thought was about to be challenged.
The First Surprise
When I found out my diagnosis, I had posted the news on my Facebook Page. That night, one of my close friends texted me and told me that there was something at the front door. It was a comfort care package. She went out and got me soft, fleece PJs (with a button down top), a yeti-type cup, a journal, snacks, a heat/cool pack, and warm fuzzy socks. My friend is a very kindhearted woman so although I was surprised to receive the gift, I was not surprised at her loving gesture.
The Second Surprise
I had two days to prepare for my first surgery. I called up my close friend, who lives over 1000 miles away, and asked her to set up a meal train. A meal train is a way for people to bring dinners to a family who is going through a crisis, having a baby, or any time a family is in need. Normally, people will volunteer to do this, but since my diagnosis and surgery happened within a week, I barely had time to let people know what was happening. The first person to sign up was a lady I knew only through a Facebook Group! She signed up for the first night and she lived in another state. I was blown away. Here was someone I have never met in person, only talked to in comments in a Facebook Group, and lives states away was the first person to volunteer to send us a meal.
In preparation for this upcoming surgery, a local friend used the website Take Them a Meal. This one allows people from out of state to ship a meal using the company’s service. If you google meal train, I’m sure there are plenty of sites that will help you organize a meal train for someone.
The Third Surprise
I’m about to get real Y’all! Finances are rough when you experience a cancer diagnosis. My diagnosis came at one of the worst times for our family. As I’ve mentioned, I was scheduled to go back to work. My purpose for returning to work was to help with my daughter’s college education and support my husband’s new business. We were completely out of debt, had a fully-funded emergency fund (3-4 months of income) and thought we were in a great place to take a business risk.
Cancer changed everything.
My husband had to temporarily shut down his newly opened acting studio (we hadn’t even had the grand opening) and we started living off our emergency fund. We are not the type of people that ask for help, we always try to figure out solutions. We were a military family for 8 years so we learned how to get through a crisis without a support system.
Knowing this our dear friends, who have been going through their own cancer journey knew the feeling of having no income and trying to get through treatment, set up a crowdfunding page to help with our mounting medical expenses. I was in tears. Once she posted it on Facebook, one of my husband’s friends reached out to us personally and said, “I’m going to drop off a check and you are not going to argue with me about it, you’re just going to take it.” We were stunned, amazed and completely in awe at how God was bringing people into our lives with help that we needed.
If you know someone going through a major life change, research the different crowdfunding sites. Ours is set up on Generosity.com, but I believe they are transitioning soon so that site will shut down. You will never fully understand the impact you could have when you help with a family’s financial stress.
Kindness is Support
These are just three ways that people have shown us an immense amount of kindness. I do have a tribe of people who are there in crisis! There are so many more stories. A few weeks ago, a friend insisted I tell her what I needed and I said, “laundry.” She came right over and did 5 loads for me. Last week, a hairdresser friend cut my hair as a gift and offered to do it for free until I’m done with my journey. Yesterday, a neighbor, who had given me a care package of bath soaks and healthy snacks brought over more bath soaks. Today, one of our gifted sewing friends gave me a mastectomy pillow for after the surgery.
I asked for the haircut and for the pillow to be made, but these kindhearted people would not take payment when we tried to pay for their services. Internally, I felt bad because these are hardworking people who deserve to receive money for their work. However, my hairdresser friend spoke lovingly to me and said that people want to help and sometimes don’t know how. Let them help you with their gifts. You accepting it is a gift to them because they have served you in a way no one else could. She is right. When people use their gifts to serve others it brings them joy.
Personally, I am not great at making meals for people, but I remember asking a friend what I could do and went grocery shopping for her. I got everything on her list and wouldn’t let her pay me knowing her medical crisis was financially draining. It was my way of helping her family. Another time, I went to a friend and cleaned her kitchen and did some laundry. I’ve done it before, but I guess I never really thought about it being done for me. If you have a friend going through a crisis, think about what gifts you have that you can offer to them.
My next post will probably touch on some ideas. One thing I have discovered is when you’re walking an unknown journey, you don’t know what you need until you suddenly need it. Hopefully, I can give ideas for you to help someone else who might not know what they need.