Thankful For A
I was eighteen years old, fresh out of
high school with a bright future to look forward to, when I
received the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis.
This was a big deal for someone my age to endure. However I
chose to fight the battle instead of wallowing in self pity.
After major surgery and four months of radiation treatments, I
overcame my obstacle and emerged a new person -- someone who
took nothing for granted and a person who learned to appreciate
everything and everyone around me.
Years passed and I received my certification in medical
assisting, met a wonderful man, moved to New York and got
married. Truly, life couldn't have been any better -- however, I
still felt something missing and longed to find my purpose.
Having donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, TN,
for years, I had always felt a connection and empathy toward the
children living with cancer who were being treated there. What a
truly magnificent place, especially knowing that no patient was
ever turned away regardless of ability to pay. The hospital
exuded living, and that is what I was all about.
As my 20-year anniversary of being a cancer survivor approached,
I wanted to do something special and unforgettable.
I organized a fund raiser, calling it "A Mission of Love," and
thanks to my generous family and friends, raised $4,000 for St.
Jude's, planning to deliver it myself. Three quarters of the
money would be given as a monetary donation to the hospital, and
what was left would go toward purchasing toys for the children.
I also had arranged with the hospital a t-shirt painting
activity for any child who felt well enough to participate.
Thanksgiving Day seemed the most appropriate day of the year for
the mission, and so it was all arranged. My husband and I flew
to Memphis with 50 t-shirts and a huge bag of fabric paint in
tow the day before Thanksgiving. We went to the toy store and
filled three shopping carts with all kinds of toys piled high to
the sky. It was as though we were small celebrities when the
employees and other shoppers became aware of what we were doing.
On Thanksgiving Day, as we pulled into the front gates of St.
Jude, it was quite literally my dream come true. I became
extremely emotional, as my eyes welled with tears of happiness.
After dropping the toys off, we went to a lounge area where
there were six children waiting anxiously to begin painting.
They picked out their shirts and my husband and I helped them
get started. To me, it was as though they weren't even sick, and
to see them smile was one of the greatest gifts I could have
ever received. When the activity was over and we wished the
children well, we dropped off the monetary donation to an
extremely grateful staff, and then our visit came to an end.
Leaving there that day, I knew I had finally found my purpose.
Going to St. Jude filled a feeling of emptiness inside of me
that had existed for as long as I could remember, and it
genuinely changed my life.
I was thanked for giving a donation to a charity that saves
lives, but being able to give thanks for my experience was
"All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don't discover
why. Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in
life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others."
-- Danny Thomas