Monday, July 28, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Larry ran in the Torchlight Run on Saturday. The girls and I went to cheer him on and to watch the parade. We haven't been to this parade for a couple of years and I had forgotten how many people come out to participate and watch this great Seattle event. We were proud of Larry and the girls were excited to be able to cheer for him as he ran by.

Because Larry was a runner, the girls and I ended up sitting by ourselves amongst the crowd for a couple of hours. We had chairs, food blankets etc to get us through the evening. We found a nice open corner and camped out for the duration.

This was really my first time in a very public place since I have shaved my head. I wear scarves every day when I am out and about and go bare headed when I am at home so sometimes forget that I am bald.

I was shocked and surprised therefore when I was approached by several people. First, in our little corner on the street we were quickly joined by other people. A very nice woman sat next to me with her husband and two teenage daughters. She asked me if I enjoyed being bald in the summer. When I told her I had only been bald for a week, she told me that she was bald 4 years ago when she was going through treatment for breast cancer. She was very gracious and friendly and asked me several questions about my doctors, treatment etc. Her girls were slightly older than mine when she was diagnosed, but it was still helpful to talk to someone who has gone through what I am going through with daughters involved. The best part though was just talking to her about the parade, the weather etc. She was the reminder that I needed that breast cancer patients survive and thrive with very normal, happy lives.

At the beginning of the parade, there were 3 people walking through the crowds taking donations for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. They walked past me and just like normal, they looked and looked again. The difference though is that one of them, a man, turned around and came back. He handed me a pink Strength bracelet, smiled, waved and walked away.

As the parade progressed, we started to get crowded in. I soon found a young mom standing over my shoulder with her two young children, trying to see through the crowd. She eventually put her hand on my shoulder and asked if she could intrude by asking about my bald head. When I told her it was breast cancer, she teared up immediately. She said that her younger sister was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma almost 5 years ago and was now 28 and doing great. She talked to me about the horror and pain their family went through watching her sister go through treatment and fight her own battle. She told me that she would keep me in her prayers and was confident that I would beat my cancer, just like her sister has. She kissed me on the cheek and squeezed my shoulders and wiped away tears.

I have been very blessed to be the recipient of the kindness of my family and friends, but this is the first time since my diagnosis that I have been witness to the true kindness of strangers.

1 comment:

kris r said...

Trace,
I'm so glad you had fun at the parade. What a wonderful experience. Yes, there truly are angels among us. Once you have felt their gentle touch, you have a strength that is unbreakable.
Thinking of you this week and sending you hugs!
K