By Ann Fonfa
I was raised as a completely non-religious person. I never learned to meditate, didn’t think much of the mind-body-spirit stuff because I couldn’t wrap my head around the ‘spirit’ part.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. I didn’t know a single living soul with cancer, and folks seemed to go out of their way to tell me about their next door neighbor’s cousin “but she died”, or their co-worker’s sister’s friend – “but she died”. So I had NO doubt that I would die – especially because I met with a surgeon on Thursday and was told they had an opening on Monday. I interpreted that to mean I was doomed.
I spent Friday at work, Saturday in bed, wrapped in my husband’s arms assuring him all would be well (while in my own head I uttered a continuous “uh oh, uh oh”. On Sunday we did chores, took a walk and sort of behaved normally.
That night a woman called. She said: “I am a 10-year survivor”. Just like that I KNEW I could survive. If she could, I knew I could.
Over the days to follow I repeated her words to me. And added to that wonderful feeling was the words I vaguely heard as I awoke from surgery. Some wonderful woman, I know not who, said: “You had a lumpectomy but now you are FINE”.
I truly believe those two women whose identities are lost to me, saved my life. Even now when I tell my tale to audiences, as the founder of nonprofit Annie Appleseed Project, I still feel the power. I am alive 21+ years later, in part because two people were so KIND to me when I needed it most. We must all remember the power in our words and use them wisely and well.