The ripples of your actions.

As I wrote last week, I’ve been sick. Though better, this junk has lingered longer than I’ve had patience for, but as I also noted, I view this as an opportunity to practice patience with myself and the world around me. However, I won’t deny that I’ve whined here and there, and even on this blog. In the last few weeks, there have been times I’ve felt lousy–really lousy–but truthfully, it’s just a cold and it will “run its course.” I take my Sudafed and find relief until that magical day I awaken virus-free.

But, for some, the cold doesn’t go away. It progresses into something bigger like pneumonia, because maybe, underneath the cold, there is something bigger.

About this time 3 years ago, (or was it 4 now?), I received a call from a friend as she was leaving the doctor’s office with her teenage son, D. I could hear the slight tremble in her voice as she spoke. D had been sick with a “bug” he hadn’t been able to shake for almost 2 months. They had worked all the homeopathic treatments she knew of (and trust me, she knows them all!) and for a while, he would bounce back, but never completely. And though she and her family have insurance, she never took the kids to the doctor; up until that point, she had really had no need.

After a routine exam, the doctor ordered a chest x-ray and CT scan to be done immediately; the doctor had already called the radiology department at the hospital to let them know she was on the way. Alarms went off, but the voice of reason remained loud as she left the office and called me. She knows my medical history and wanted someone who could help her navigate the doctor’s terminology, the tests, and the antiseptic halls of a hospital, but above all, to simply hold her hand as they took her son in for the x-ray. I dropped everything and met her in the radiology department 20 minutes later.

That was the beginning of the journey I took with her, D, and the rest of the family. That afternoon, she received the call with the unthinkable diagnosis; her son had lymphoma. I know she wanted to run, to hide, to keep her son away from the doctors and their needles and tests and medicines that poison. I understood, and I also understood D’s prognosis if she/they did that. I knew I was placed in their lives to help them walk this part of their journey. I was in the room as D underwent his CT scans and could joke about the utter coolness of the stickers on “his CT machine” that were never on mine. I sat with D and my friend as the oncologist explained the diagnosis, the process and the post-surgical treatments. To diffuse tension, I teased as he settled into his private “spa retreat” room at Children’s Hospital, with its X-Box, movie library, and pool table one floor down (I was lucky, I told him, if I was given an extra Jell-O during my hospital stays.) I reassured her as we left him at the hospital that day, unexpectedly, so they could do a lymph node biopsy the next morning. And, on the day of D’s “big” surgery, I came alongside a family in fear and disbelief, walking the halls, asking for warm blankets as D waited in pre-op, and offering words of encouragement.

Though follow-ups are still required, this story ends well. In two months, D will graduate high school and set his sites on the future. I can’t count the number of times my girlfriend and her husband have thanked my for being there with them during that time. I know there is no other place I was supposed to be, nor would have wanted to be.

Last month, I revisited D’s journey in my mind. I had offered what I could to help a family facing an unthinkable diagnosis. Then, I thought about another little fighter, Natalie, only 2, who I came to “know” through a friend. I have followed her story of diagnosis, surgery, treatments, and recent follow-up scans through the CaringBridge blog beautifully written by her mother. Though I don’t personally know Natalie, I offered what I could, my prayers.  On this date last month, I added my voice to a group of bloggers who posted about Donna, a spitfire little girl who liked to dance and read and eat popscicles. (Donna’s mom, Mary Tyler Mom, shares her very personal story here and the origins of Donna’s Good Things.) I wrote and I donated for Donna’s memory and for children everywhere with pediatric cancer. I offered what I could for the little ones that can’t speak up for themselves.

In the last few days, as I’ve bemoaned the dregs of this cold bug, I’ve had my attention brought once again to the children whose colds won’t disappear because something more sinister lies beneath. On the 24th of this month, three of the bloggers who introduced me to Donna last month will stand together in solidarity with children fighting cancer to help raise awareness as well as money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation. They will give their time, their money, their hair (yes, ALL of it–zip, zap, nada left), and above all, copious amounts of compassion for those with the smallest voices at the Donna’s Good Things at Candlelite Chicago Event. The Blissfully Bald team was formed by Chris (of the blog …from the Bungalow) and his wife, Karin (of the blog Pinwheels and Poppies.) They didn’t know Donna or Mary Tyler Mom, but Karin was moved to action when she read her story. (You can read about their journey to form the Blissfully Bald team here.)  The newest member of the Blissfully Bald team is young adult author, blogger, lawyer, and giant heart, Deborah Bryan, who once swore to never wear her hair shorter than chin length. Deb lost her mother to cancer. She knows well of the hope cancer steals. Her son will stay home with his daddy as she boards a plane to join ranks with Chris and Karin on Saturday, the 24 in Chicago. All three members of the Blissfully Bald team have been unassuming in their campaign to help; there have been humble requests for support (of all kinds, not just financial) made through their blogs and Facebook pages, with only slight mention of their involvement; the focus has remained on the kids.

Last month, when I wrote about Donna, I asked my readers to donate their money or their time or to simply say a  prayer to help those whose energies are best spent slaying the dragon. Yesterday, I wrote about the lesson my mother taught me about speaking up for those that can’t speak for themselves; she lived that example as she helped strangers in her neighborhood and children halfway around the world. And in the last week, I have watched the swell of activity as three amazing bloggers live that lesson out loud, with humble voices. In doing so, they have inspired me and others to do the same. Acts of kindness (regardless of size) beget kindness, and we can all make a difference in this world if we help those in need with what we have to offer, be it time, money, or prayers. Just give where you feel called to give. The ripples of your actions will travel farther than you can imagine.

(And though the team has officially met their goal, it never hurts to be an overachiever, especially when raising funds to fight a demon. Donations can be made here: Blissfully Bald – A St. Baldrick’s Team.)

Thank you for reading.

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17 thoughts on “The ripples of your actions.”

  1. I am so so so far behind in commenting, but I love this post on so many levels. The ripples of our actions stretch far beyond what we can ever know. In an action, a word, a thought, it can set of a chain reaction that can bring much more love to the world, just as the actions of all the wonderful people you name above and this post. I am glad your friend’s son, D, is doing well and I hope your heart is smiling today Mary. xoxo

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  2. Oh, I finally got to read this TM! Beautifully written, and what a great way to share and pay tribute to those you’ve known who have survived as well as to our blogging friends who are making this journey too priceless to not follow. All ripple effects. Each and every one. My step-mom died of stage 4 brain cancer in less than 8 months after diagnosis at age 58 ten years ago today (St. Patrick’s Day). She’d never even been hospitalized before a day in her life-“healthy as a horse”. This killer effects everyone and many times has no mercy. I, too, now have a cold that is lingering and I wonder “why”, but I know that it will pass. I’m grateful that I can keep popping ibuprofen and drinking tea. 🙂 Thanks for connecting everyone with this terrific post. :-)♥

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  3. Mary Tyler Mom here, or Donna’s Mom works, too. This is a beautiful post. The ripple effect astounds me. I am so grateful to feel it all around me. So looking forward to meeting all three of these bloggers next week. Hoping I find some words that will adequately reflect the gratitude I feel. Choosing hope, still, Sheila.

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    1. Thank you so much for popping in here, Shelia. As I told Karin, I thought of all of you so often on your special day, and I thought of the little girl and family that started the ripples that reached me and touched my heart. ♥

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  4. Thank you for sharing this story, and spreading the word about our fabulous blogger friends. I do believe in the ripple effect of positivty and generosity, and I hope you’re feeling it now! 🙂

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  5. So beautiful. I am so proud of my boggy friends, Deb and Chris. And why don’t I know MTM? Whaaat? I hope you are feeling 100% soon. When you are sick with a cold, it is a time to be grateful that you don’t have something that would require needles and scans and poison.

    We always give to various cancer organizations. I have lost too many people. My grandmother. And, if you can believe it, 8 friends in 7 years. Yeah. Cancer is a monster. So while I’m not hopping a plane or shaving my head, we do what we can — every year — in a little quieter way.

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    1. Renée,
      Cancer, sadly, doesn’t discriminate. Your grandmother AND 8 friends in 7 years is a tremendous amount of loss. Knowing the small fraction that I do of you, I am am not at all surprised by your humble giving. A light that shines as bright as yours clearly shines upon others. You are a special woman, Renée.

      Like you, I won’t be shaving my head, and though I usually try to keep “my good deeds” quiet, I wanted to share what Deb, Chris and Karin are doing with those that read my words. During the days following 9/11, I remember how much nicer everyone seemed to be to each other. I wondered if that was just here, in our area, but I spoke with friends on both coasts that said the same. There was a collective compassion for each other that was almost palpable and I pondered what the world would be like if we found a way to hold on to that gentleness. Sadly, I no longer see the “collective compassion”, but I do believe it takes only one to start a ripple effect.

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  6. Thank you for this post. There have been some very noticeable ripple effects in my own life already, but I know there are countless others that will go unseen for years to come, or even indefinitely. Our actions today create our future. I have to wonder about what acts of kindness your friends have shown to others because of the kindness you showed to them all those years ago. And what kindness have those acts led to? That’s the stuff that blows my mind. Even though it’s easy to forget sometimes, we’re all connected. There aren’t many things in this world that feel better to me than being reminded of how very connected we are. Thanks for being a part of that.

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    1. Thank YOU for your comment, and again, for what you, Karin, and Deb are doing to both help kids with cancer and to make this world a better place. I fervently agree with:
      “Our actions today create our future.”
      “Even though it’s easy to forget sometimes, we’re all connected. ”

      Though we may never see the “results” of our kindness, we can each trust that in some way, it carries on.

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