One of my newest endeavors that has taken me away from this blog, is actually one of my most favorite past times. I thought today, of all days, would be a great day to fill you in on this adventure. For those of you who may be unaware to the significance of the day, today marks the 10th anniversary of my brother’s passing after fighting leukemia for 3 years.
A year ago today, as I sat in my rotary meeting, I listened to a speaker discuss a new park that was (and is) under construction in Greenville. It is to be called the Cancer Survivor’s Park, and it’s to be a place of rejuvenation, a place of learning, and a place of healing for everyone who has experienced some form of cancer directly or indirectly.
As I sat in that meeting, I learned that I was considered a survivor of cancer because I am a survivor of my brother. The executive director, Kay Roper, spoke so eloquently and passionately about this park, what it meant to her and what it would mean to the community. Within moments, I had a lump in my throat and tears at the brim.
I’d spent a good year and a half before meeting Kay, trying to find a place for me outside of being Davey and Henry’s mom. I looked for something that would be an old semblance of myself, the creative, hard-working, career oriented individual I always thought I would be. I knew what I was looking for was volunteer work as I didn’t have the band width to handle a full time job and still be the mom my boys had grown accustomed to. Problem was, as I’ve always said, it couldn’t be just any volunteer work. If it was going to take time away from my boys then it HAD to be something more worthwhile than padding the bottom line of corporate America. AND it had to be something I could passionately feel good about.
As with most things in my life, there is always Divine Intervention. Even when I think the Lord doesn’t hear me, He is always listening. When He brought Kay into my life on the 9th anniversary of my brother’s death, I knew this is where I was supposed to be and that my patience and faith in Him had finally paid off, as it always does.
When I started volunteering with the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance, I was intimidated. As I’d told my husband on countless occasions, I felt like our children were sucking me of any brain cells I had. My mind, that part of me I once coveted which perhaps wasn’t the smartest in the world, wasn’t feeling challenged anymore. The wheels were always turning but I wasn’t learning something new. For a while, and even now, it’s felt like the boys had drained me of any intellect I’d had and I hadn’t been able to replenish that.
I joined the Communications Committee and listened to all of these people who were still in the working world, mostly in marketing and advertising, and I was in awe, enamored, and as I said before, intimidated. What could I contribute? I worried that the Lord had answered my prayer, but perhaps I had prayed incorrectly. Again, I just needed to have patience and faith in Him.
A couple of months ago, the opportunity arose for me to help out with a series that had become stagnant. There just were not enough people to get the series going again, to coordinate, organize, and even help write and edit. I didn’t hesitate. I immediately spoke up during that month’s meeting and said I would “own” the series, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
It is known as the Sunday Survivor Series, and is a bi-weekly story published on the park’s website every Sunday evening. The stories feature someone within our local community who has been impacted by cancer, either directly or indirectly. In most cases, the interviewees are survivors of some form of cancer, with the occasional relative of someone who has passed mixed into the shuffle of stories.
As an introduction of me joining the team, I was photographed with my boys and the creator of the series interviewed me. When I was being interviewed, I was amazed at how raw the emotions still were, nearly 10 years later. I found I could still feel Brian’s last hug, his last tug of my ponytail, his voice as he spoke to me, and even the raspy sound of his last breaths as he squeezed my hand. As I went through that interview, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy that I would be able to help so many others tell their stories, that I will be able to offer that compassionate touch, that vessel for emotions and stories to eventually unfold.
So, here’s the link to the stories. Our newest one is out and what a wonderful young man and inspiration he is. The second story is mine.
Please take a moment to read it and then take a moment to read some of the other stories. Follow the Facebook page for the Cancer Survivors Park. Sign up for email notifications so you’ll always know when a new story is out. You may get to read some of my words there, even when they can’t always be here on this blog, and you may find an additional person who needs your prayers.
God Bless all of you for following me, for encouraging me, and for giving me your love in some way. I’m hoping 2017 will be full of great new adventures and insightful words to share with you all.