Last Thursday was Breast Cancer Awareness Day and all of Sarah’s classmates were encouraged to wear pink to school. Since Sarah is the Perpetual Princess of Pinkness, that was a pretty easy task for her to accomplish. She also donned a hat with her ensemble, since students were rewarded with $1 donated to breast cancer research for every hat worn.
Sarah had it going on in the pink department!
When she got home from school, I took a few more photos of her before she changed into her non school, non pink clothes. Since she happened to be walking around in her socks on a wood floor, she gave into the irresistible urge to do a little sock-inspired spinning and dancing.
After the dancing was done, a few quieter smiles were shared and another spontaneous photo session at the Smith House came to an end.
But the story doesn’t end there . . .
Last week, Steve and I spent some time with a woman I’ll call Ann. Ann is new to our community and has gone through some really tough times in recent weeks. On top of everything else, she had just returned from a visit to a doctor who examined a tumor in her abdomen and told her it will be have to be treated, either with chemo or with surgery. (Or both.)
Ann was understandably very upset and was especially worried over what was ahead for her. As a teenager, she had seen a favorite aunt with breast cancer die an excruciating death after being treated with chemo. Ann just wasn’t sure that she wanted to go through chemo because it seemed like such a horrible thing to endure. But then again, she also didn’t want to just give up without a fight, either.
As we sat and talked, Steve explained to her that over the course of thirty years, cancer treatments and chemo have made huge strides forward and the fact that Ann witnessed such a traumatic chemo experience with her aunt didn’t mean that it would be like that for Ann.
And then, briefly, Steve and I talked to her about Sarah, and what she went through with all the massive chemo that she received, especially in preparation for her bone marrow transplant. We ended up saying how well Sarah is doing today and how thankful we were for the treatment that was available to her.
Ann listened intently to everything we had to say about chemo and about Sarah and then she asked, “How old was Sarah when she went through all of that?”
When we told Ann that Sarah was just six years old, Ann’s jaw literally dropped open. She was completely silent and stunned for a moment.
And then a whole new look came over her face–a look of determination and renewed strength. She exclaimed, “Well! If a six-year-old can go through something like that, why would I ever think that I can’t do it? I am going to fight this thing and do whatever it takes and as I do, I am going to be inspired by Sarah’s story!”
It brought me such joy to see the change in her attitude and demeanor and to once again see some purpose in all of the terrible suffering Sarah went through.
Last Thursday, Sarah wore pink to honor me and my fight against breast cancer.
She wore pink to honor the mom of her dear friend, Taylor, who is just finishing up a year of breast cancer treatment including surgeries and chemo.
But she also wore it to honor–and to offer strength–to a person like Ann who just needs to be reminded that she CAN make it through the next weeks and month, regardless of the difficult challenges that will face her.
Cancer survivors are tough. And they are tender. They know how to laugh. They know how to cry. They know how to survive.
And they know how to dance in their stocking feet on a sunny afternoon.
Because they know that life is worth dancing for.