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6 Words That Changed My Life

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.

  • Carol Graham

    Thank you for sharing and I totally relate. I, too, am a cancer survivor and recently released my memoir, Battered Hope. Like you, I travel as a motivational speaker and share that there is always hope. I am so happy for you that someone took the time to give you hope when you needed it the most.