So I had this little idea of how I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday. A few days later I was being followed around by a news crew (or three).
I mean, holy crap y’all.
I got the initial idea months and months ago. In between Netflix marathons and sleeping, I started formulating a plan of how I could repay all the kindness and love that was bestowed upon me in my time of need. There is nobody that can survive just life in general without support, and I had gotten plenty of it. I wanted to pass the “good juju” onto others. When it was getting close to my birthday on July 20th, I decided I wanted to do something a little different than the typical food, boozing, and dancing. (Don’t worry, I got plenty of that in as well. Cheers to my roommate for being the last one standing with me at 5:30am!) So the week leading up to my birthday, I performed 30 random acts of kindness to celebrate my 30 years on this lovely planet. These included bringing donuts to a local fire station, giving strangers in the baby section of Target a small gift card, visiting a children’s shelter and spending time with the kids, dropping off treats at the Humane Society, and leaving a smiley face note on a random car, among many other things. I saved the most “meaningful to me” act for last, which was leaving Gatorade, snacks, and an inspirational note to the patients in the waiting room of my clinic. As someone who is a year out from treatment and been in their shoes, I hope I gave them some encouragement (and a sugar rush).
But it didn’t end with my 30 “RAOK”. I decided to also invite my 1,000+ Facebook friends to join me in perfoming their own random acts of kindness, one or more. And I asked everyone to post a comment or photo of what they did, to share with everyone. And oh my, the response. Y’all, seriously, I was overwhelmed in the best possible way I have ever been. The page was passed along to friends of friends, then friends of friends of friends, and then the news stations started calling and wanted to feature my story. Then people from all over, multiple states, strangers, joined in. Every five seconds my phone was blinking with a notification of someone’s post. I would look at the page whenever I got a moment and try to keep up with all the wonderful things people were doing, and try to hold back the happy tears.
At the end of the week, there were 450-500 random acts of kindness recorded on the Facebook event page. (I tried to get an exact number but I lost count a couple times.) There were even more than that performed, personal ones that people didn’t feel comfortable sharing but expressed to me verbally that they had participated.
I cannot thank everyone enough for being a part of this incredibly special birthday celebration. I think we all made a little dent in the negativity in this world, and certainly brought a lot more kindness to people than they are accustomed.
As I mentioned above, there were multiple news stations that interviewed me and shared my story, which was a bit nervewracking (I am a much better writer than speaker) but ended up being amazing. I also was featured on the radio and a couple blogs. Check out the links at the bottom of the page.
It was about midweek when CNN came to interview and follow me around. When the journalist from CNN had completed his interview with me, he asked the rest of the crew if they had any additional questions. One of the interns spoke up – he was 21 and had never met anyone with cancer or knew of anyone with cancer before, which in itself is incredible in this day and age. He said he couldn’t imagine at his age, the age I was diagnosed, having to hear that news and deal with everything that followed, and he asked me how I was able to not be bitter or angry at the fact that I fought cancer through most of my adult life. Nobody had really asked me that before, and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. I mean, I definitely had days where I was frustrated, and sad, and really frustrated, but I don’t think I’ve ever been angry or bitter. I guess I’ve always thought, who am I to be bitter? There are so many people fighting for their lives today, it’s not fair for me to say “Why me?”. Because, why anyone? I told him I’m not sure where it came from, that I’ve always been an optimistic person and it just came from within me to use my energy for fighting my disease and not with being angry at the world for my circumstances.
I thought about it for the next few days though. How was it possible that I have not developed any bitterness in these nine years that I have heard “You have cancer” four times? How have I stayed positive through it all?
I realized that the reason I am able to not hate my situation, is that my disease and fight have given me the ability to see the “silver linings” moments. To appreciate every single day and every single moment to the fullest. That I really have no choice but to stay positive and survive as long as I can. Cancer changed my life, a fact that in some regard I have to appreciate. Who knows where I would be, what kind of person I would be, what my career would be, without this cancer diagnosis. I would like to think I would still be working in non-profit, and still be spreading random acts of kindness with the world, but there’s no way to know. So I recognize that cancer has afforded me the insight to be the person I am today. And that makes it easier to deal with the fact that this asshole cancer has given me some setbacks in my life. And now it’s just time to make up for time lost, obviously.
Oh, one more thing. On Friday, I got my (almost) 1 year post-transplant scans and biopsies back, and they remain all clear.
Excuse me, I meant to say, “”AAAAAALLLL CLEEEEEEEEEAAAR!”
I will celebrate officially one year in remission at the end of December, but this is a huge landmark. I’m hoping when I meet with my doctor in a couple weeks to officially review my status and progress, he’ll crack a smile and maybe even give me a hug.
Check out the Facebook event page and the various feature pieces below.
Lauraine’s Spread the Love Birthweek Challenge
WSB Channel 2 story
11 Alive story
All News 106.7 story
Pretty Southern blog post
Midtown Patch blog post