Can numbers tell a story of courage and inspiration? Consider the staggering numbers in this story and the incredible story in its numbers.
The house is peacefully quiet and broad bands of sunlight stream into the room through large windows as my friend Laura eases herself into a comfortable recliner that is her safe haven for most of the day. An eight-inch scar races down her abdomen and painfully reminds her of her sixth cancer-related surgery. With her aging dog lying at her feet, she shows me colored photos of the cancerous “stalactites” that peppered her peritoneum, the membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity. I am in awe of her while she calmly reminds me about the details of her eleven-year fight against three primary forms of cancer. While most of us would be daunted by the prospect of a single round of chemotherapy, Laura is about to begin her fourth – she has Stage 4 peritoneal cancer. Saying that Laura is one of the most courageous and inspirational people I know is clearly an understatement and is one that I wish I didn’t have to make.
“What do you say to yourself every morning when you wake up? What gives you the strength to get through the hard days?” “What words keep coming back to you as you go on this journey?” A couple of weeks ago I asked Laura to think of several words that answer these questions. Because she is a gift to me, I want to make a gift for her. I want to know what “her words” are so that I can make an indelible version of them for her to wear close to her heart – in a necklace. The words come easily to her: “Faith, Hope, and Love.”
As bright as the sunlight that streams into the room, so is Laura’s hope. The mere fact that Laura is involved in fundraising for three major cancer organizations while in the throes of her own battle is proof. As an eight-year active volunteer for her county’s American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days Campaign, Laura has an ambitious goal. She hopes that during Daffodil Days as many cancer patients as possible will be able to receive a Gift of Hope. A Gift of Hope is a bouquet of daffodils that is donated anonymously and is delivered to someone undergoing cancer treatment during Daffodil Days. She vividly recalls the day, more than a decade ago and during one of her chemotherapy sessions, when a stranger walked into the room and handed her a bouquet of cheerful yellow daffodils. That person was a cancer survivor and an ACS volunteer. Laura’s eyes light up as she explains to me how much receiving that bouquet meant to her that day. Her emotional words and her dedication to this campaign make it clear just how very much that bouquet means to her even now.
Last September Laura and nine of her friends participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Walking thirty-nine miles over a two-day period can be a grueling task, but for Laura, who had just finished her third round of chemotherapy, and her friends, each step gave them another measure of hope. With Laura by their side as an inspirational guide, they all completed their 39-mile journey and raised almost $40,000 to go towards breast cancer screening, support, treatment, and research.
Laura is a gift to all who know her and is a gift of hope for all cancer patients that she tirelessly raises money for in an effort to find cures. If her story inspires you or if you want to bring hope to people facing cancer and help save lives through cancer research, please consider donating a Gift of Hope during the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days Campaign. You can access Laura’s Daffodil Days donation page by clicking here. Online orders can be made through February 28th. Laura and I thank you.
“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”