They say there are no accidents in life. Especially when it comes to meeting people.
In 2014 I walked in to CPMC in San Francisco. I was scheduled for my chemotherapy treatment. That morning I prayed for an angel to come in to my life that would speak hope in to my life. It’s no secret my life in SF was rather tumultuous with my ex. Standing next to me while waiting for the elevator was a gentleman. We struck up a conversation. As it turned out he was a pastor from Vallejo. His wife had just had open heart surgery. His name is Ali. We have been friends ever since. Ali has blessed my life so much with his prayers, encouragement and support throughout the past few years.
That day Ali asked me if I would stop and see his wife Kat that week. He felt it would cheer her up. I made it a point to go visit Kat that week. She was very sick the day I went and was so down. I have never seen Ali or Kat since that day three years ago however we remain in contact via phone and text.
Today my calendar reminded me it was Kats birthday so I texted her a birthday message. Much to my surprise I received a call from Kat. She was crying. She called to thank me. Not only for remembering her birthday but for stopping to see her that day three years ago. Kat shared that I’m always saying what a blessing they are in my life but I have failed to recognize the blessing I have been in theirs. Kat told me the day I went to see her the doctor had just told her they found a blockage and would have to perform another surgery. She was so sad. She told me that my voice and smile lifted her spirits and after I left her doctors told her the blockage was gone and she would not need another surgery. She said she often forgets my name but has never forgotten my voice or smile and the miracle I brought in her life that day. I had no idea. Her words to me were “you always say Ali and I are a blessing in your life but you really were a blessing in our life that day. I will never forget you. I wanted you to know that”.
Wow! I had no idea. I was very touched to hear her story. Even more so to know I somehow made a difference while in one of the greatest challenges in my own life.
The moral of the story is you never know whose life you’re going to bless. Strive to be a blessing for others. You may not see it today but one day you will discover that somehow you made a difference.
I posted this on Facebook two years ago while I was fighting breast cancer. I’m blogging this post for those of you who are fighting breast cancer today. It has been a long two years for me. The side effects from chemo are still lingering. The fight has taken so much out of me and changed my life in so many ways. I’m tired and overcoming not only the side effects but the depression that came along with the challenge of chemo therapy, radiation, infusions, hormone blockers and a genetic mutation that causes many types of cancer. I was in it to win it two years ago. This past two years I’ve overcome breast cancer, pre-colon cancer, skin cancer, neuropathy, the loss of my toe nails and fingernails, the loss of my hair, a breakup, my dignity and self respect. I’ve been verbally attacked and received not the most positive support. I still have lymphodema, osteoporosis, my muscles and joints still hurt, I battle an auto-immune disease every day but I’m still in it and I’m winning it every day.
Cancer has a way with treating everyone different. For some, their experience is easy, for others not so much. Be mindful of anyone fighting cancer. If you’ve never walked in their shoes please treat them with respect. Be empathetic and show your support. I haven’t received the best support. In fact I’ve been vilified by certain family members and others I held in high regard. I’ve even been compared to others whose experience with cancer was not the same as mine. Theirs was easy therefore my fight has been labeled “fake” I can only wish it was. I’ve met women who beat cancer one year and were fighting lung cancer, ovarian cancer or cervical cancer the next. Then there are the ones who fight hard and don’t make it. Do not judge anyone’s fight based on the fight of others. Everyone’s battle is different but what is the same is this nasty disease called cancer. In my opinion, cancer sucks. It’s changed my life in so many ways, both in a positive and negative way. My experience is my own. Everyone’s experience is there own too. So today, for those who have judged me or others, treated me or others poorly and hurt us in so many ways, here’s what I have to say. Be careful how you treat those fighting cancer. You never know when it may be you walking in their shoes. Cancer doesn’t care who you are, where you live or how much money you have. When you’re tagged…you’re it. Cancer is real and comes knocking when you least expect it and when it does you better be “in it to win it”
My post two years ago:
I made it back to San Francisco yesterday. I made it home to the familiar sounds of the crowds cheering for the SF Giants at the ball park across the street, cars honking, the hustle and bustle of the crowds downstairs and I thought how nice it was to be at home w my mom. The peace, quiet and serenity of just being home. The trip really wiped me out. I had a doctors appointment today. I had to have my blood drawn, my vitals checked and meet with my oncologist. While I was waiting I met a gal named Amanda. She was battling breast cancer. She is a Stage 1 and I’m a stage 1A. We are both going through the same treatment however our side effects differed. For one, she didn’t lose her hair until the second or third treatment, however she lost the feeling to her toes and fingers and has experienced leg swelling. Side effects I haven’t experienced yet, thank goodness. I met with my oncologist. She told me that she had chosen a very aggressive treatment for me because she wants to make sure she kills the cancer so I don’t have to go through this again. She also shared that while chemo is chemo, everyone’s experience is different. I thought this was interesting because I’ve met so many women and have had the opportunity to hear their story. A lot of women who are in their 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. We all have breast cancer. We are all fighting the disease but while our treatment is the same, our side effects are different. The experience is different. Before I began treatment I read several books that in truth scared me to death. I finally stopped reading them. I thought my oncologists interpretation today was spot on. I don’t mind sharing my journey in the hopes that it will be a wealth of encouragement if god forbid anyone finds themselves facing the same challenge. My advice is keep your mind open and remember that while others may experience one thing your experience will be different. What is the same is the disease. Keep fighting and never give up. The road may be hard but the end result is it’s beatable so be in it to win it. I’m taking a break from chemo for a couple of weeks to get my strength back. I’m going to use the time to eat healthy, rest and get my strength back so I can get through the next four treatments as a fighter. I’m in it to win it!! Going home was a good thing for me. Not everything went as planned but what it did give me is the motivation and determination to fight again.
I posted this on Facebook two years ago while fighting cancer. I thought I’d blog this story. I still think about Monroe. I wonder how he’s doing. I wonder if he’s on the beaches of Brazil. If you live in San Francisco and happen to be on 2nd and Townsend and run in to a shoe shine guy….take some time to let him shine your shoes. His stories will captivate you and his presence is sure to bless you.
Monroe Jackson!!! My new friend. He’s an African American older gentlemen who’s been a street shoe shiner for over 30 years. I met Monroe a few weeks ago after my first chemo treatment. I had seen him on the corner of 2nd & Townsend as I walked to my accupuncture appt. Accupuncture a must when you’re going through chemo. It really helps. Any way on the walk back home after my appt Monroe was away from his shoe shine post standing across the street at the corner of 2nd shooting the breeze w other people. We passed each other as I we crossed the street. I was walking slow that day. Very sick but by the time I got to Third street I looked across the street and was surprised to see Monroe crossing the street heading towards me. I thought ” that’s weird. Am I seeing things?” As I crossed the street I took the time and asked. “Do you have a twin? I just saw you on Second street.” He laughed and said “no I just got off the bus”. Hmm weird. Chemo was Friday so Saturday I walked to accupuncture again. Monroe was at his post. We chit chatted and on the way home I decided to take time out to just talk to him. We briefly talked about many things. I shared I had cancer. Monroe said. “Girl….go shave that head!!! Bite the bullet and do it. Heck Sinead O’Connor did it. Grace Slick did it! Who cares!” I laughed but I did end up shaving my head. Yesterday on my way to my appt again I said hi to Monroe. He asked “so did you shave it?” I said ” yes”. He said. “Show me!” So I took off my hat. Monroe said “there you go. You’re perfect!” I laughed and for some reason Monroe decided to share his story. As it turns out, Monroe is a professional shoe shine guy. He’s not homeless. As a matter of fact, he has a home. He lives in the five bedroom home he grew up in with his five sisters. He’s 74 years old. He moved out at the age of 16. Unlike his sisters he never amounted to much more than being a shoe shine guy in the street. As he shared his story I realized he was dressed nice, very clean and I had the wrong impression. Monroe moved back home at the age of 50 when his mom got sick. She battled cancer. He took care of her until the day she died. Monroe said his mom was a “pain in the ass” always bitching about his girlfriends but he didn’t mind. He drove her around, fed her did everything a son should do. Monroe told me if there was one thing he’s learned in his 74 years of living is you can’t choose your parents or your family, they’re who you are and no matter what life throws at you fight hard, never give up and live life to the fullest. Monroe is hoping this will be his last year of shining shoes. He’s feeling a little old and he’s ready to pack it up and spend his last days on the beaches of Brazil. I hope he’s able to. Monroe is my blessing today. I’m always so grateful for the people I’m lucky enough to meet!