In late 2013, while living in Massachusetts, when the craze of Thanksgiving and the holidays were all around, my family and I finally made use of a Picture People gift card we received when Anna was born 2 years prior. I love getting gift cards and then, almost immediately, I hate them for the work they cause me. Anyways, the photo session turned out to be a lovely experience, and we got good pictures out of it (insta-Christmas Card!). We even treated ourselves to a fancy Teppanyaki meal (at a place that fed kids for free on Sundays).
It was a quiet day at the Tokyo House, but we did share the table with another family - their children a good number of years older than ours (2 and 5 at the time). It wasn't a complete disaster of a meal for us, but let's just say, the kids remember the fire on the table and have resisted my invitation to try Teppanyaki again. I'm holding out hope because I just love it - and the sushi and sake too! At the end of our meal, we learned that the family we had shared the table with paid for our meal. They knew we had just had pictures taken (yes, we were a bit overdressed) and said they felt for us, remembering their parenting days with young children. It was such a beautiful gesture, made even more special given the holiday season of 2013 was a difficult one, our first without Steve's mom who had passed away in October.
This generous gift really stuck with Steve and me and we talked about how important it was that we do the same for a family someday. I'm proud of us for making good on our promise; opportunties are everywhere if you just take the time to look for them. Of course, we had no idea that our world was about to change as we learned about my cancer that following May. When we moved to Fredericksburg, we became that family that people wanted to help and we are deeply grateful for it. So, it's time to pay it forward again!
I want to share with you what I've been doing since I arrived to Fredericksburg and I hope that it inspires you to get out there in the community and help where you see a need.
Last fall, I knew that I couldn't just go to treatment, go home, and stay isolated. So, I started volunteering at Mary Washington Hospital. I got to help with so many great projects; it felt wonderful to be making an impact on patient care. After completing chemotherapy, I felt that I could test out the waters a bit with working part-time and so, I applied to be a substitute teacher. Honestly, I would've volunteered there too, but, of course, earning my own money felt good again. It was extremely gratifying to be present in the schools and have the opportunity to talk to students, teachers, and administrators about what their daily lives are really like. My own biases were challenged and I gained a new understanding of my role as parent in the school-teacher-parent-student continuum.
I did love the interaction with students while substitute teaching. But, I knew that it wasn't the long-term fit for me. While volunteering for the hospital, I felt a pull, a need to further explore helping people, especially those diagnosed with cancer. I also was driven to do more volunteering and fund-raising for breast cancer and other health-related issues. The staff at Mary Washington Hospital were so encouraging to me and connected me with various people who are doing such great work out there in the world!
I feel incredibly fortunate to now be working at Mary Washington Healthcare's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator for Integrative Medicine. I'll talk about my new job in the future, but for now, please look at the awesome things I get to do this month - join me, won't you?
September 12 - Pink Heals Color Rush 5K - I'm one of the volunteers that gets to blast people with pink powder!
September 17 - Support Gin's Wicked Walkers and DANCE! - Come to Dance Trance and support a great cause too.
September 18 - Fairy Godmother Project's Stardust Ball - Please attend this event or send someone in your place!
October 3 - Mary Washington Healthcare's Power of Pink Walk - Proud to be part of the team bringing this event to the community.
October 4 - I'll be heading back to Boston to say thank-you to my doctors and to walk with my team, Gin's Wicked Walkers. Please consider sponsoring my team (or any of the other organizations I've mentioned above).
My family and I have come a long way since last year's walk. We look forward to writing new chapters in our Pink Ribbon (and every other color too) Journey.