I am a Rotarian. I have been for two years and three months.
I was encouraged to come to a meeting by a dear friend who was already a member. I went, saw and really felt I could be a part of an organization giving back to its community and to the world. Rotary’s main goal is to eradicate Polio and “We are this close.”
What I didn’t know about Rotary is a simple fact. Your fellow members become your friends and family. I have watched people buoyed each other when times were difficult. I have experienced it myself; I have needed professional assistance, someone came running.
During the last month of my latest pregnancy, a Rotarian friend, Nancy, went up to the mic during a Thursday meeting and announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was caught early and she was confident in her doctors’ plan to beat this beast. I sat in my chair, full of baby and emotions, simply unable to hold back the tears.
Over the last six or seven months, Nancy has been coming to our meeting and fulfilling her duties. I saw her hair fall off slowly until she told me “I’m shaving it all off!” Watching it fall in handful was too hard. She now sports a gorgeous red haired wig and her beautiful smile. As time went on, the chemotherapy treatments took a toll on her and at times, she seemed like the world had gotten too heavy. But she kept on going.
Since having Babydoll, my attendance to meetings has been sporadic. Although I knew she was having surgery, my brain chose not to retain the information and I had no idea it was happening so fast. When I saw her at a recent fundraiser we held, I gave her a big hug and asked how she was feeling, which I do every week. A few people were saying how great it was to see her and how well she was fairing! I was completely oblivious.
I took my family to a recent social event, a local baseball game. A bunch of us from the club gathered in the bleacher with hotdogs and beer to enjoy the game, but mostly the fellowship. When Nancy arrived, I proceeded with my regular hug and “How ya’ doin”. Until I sat back and listened to her explain how she had been to physio and she could lift this arm that way and this arm not so much. I finally saw what I had tried not to see. I can’t imagine what I looked like at that point. It seemed to have been minutes after minutes where I could do nothing else but stare at my beautiful breastless friend. My brain was unable to process for the longest moments until it was all clear. She is more woman now, with flat chest and a wig hiding her perfectly hairless head. She is a fighter.
Society tells us women should have long, beautiful hair and, a well endowed chest. My friend Nancy made the decision to have a double mastectomy as there were chances cancer could spread into the other breast tissues. During these long minutes when I could simply stare, I could only see a hero in all her femininity.
I am sadly uneducated about cancer. I know people who have battled it and people who were defeated. I believe it is evil, in its pure form.
Nancy shared some of her stories of sitting at Juravinski Cancer Centre next to a seventeen year old girl, with her father, receiving chemo treatments.
My friend is already back at work to support her son and herself. Life goes on and bills keep coming. Although I am conscious of my three little blessings and my wonderful husband, I don’t think I take time, everyday, to be thankful for my health. Without it, nothing matters.
We have the best Rotary club in the region; the country. I would say in the world… Nancy, I speak for myself but I know all 64 other members feel the same, you are a superhero. You have such a positive and beautiful soul. We are all behind you.
Hug your kids, your family and your friends. I know I am.