Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Unexpected Gifts

Since my last post, I've been trying my best to come out of the fog that was my last chemotherapy treatment. I think in some ways, looking ahead to the holiday season, my mind, body, and spirit were just not ready for it all.  I keep reflecting back to December 28, 2013, my 40th birthday.  It was a gorgeous day and my mom hosted such a beautiful party - it was so great to see family and friends come from near and far to celebrate. I look at this picture and I think how crazy my life became just 4 months later and how quickly 2014 has gone.

We headed to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving this year and I think the change of scenery was good for all four of us.  I know it was good for me, it was my first week since April that I didn't have any medical appointments.  The road trip and time with family was a good way for me to recharge my batteries, my can-do attitude that has gotten me this far.  I do, regardless of my current circumstances, have plenty to be thankful for and staying positive, accepting help, and helping others is how I've managed to cope (hopefully, this attitude has helped others deal with me!)  I'm glad I "met" someone to remind me of that.

We went to the Carnegie Musuems of Art and Natural History.  These, along with the Carnegie Science Center are excellent museums (Pittsburgh, despite some rumors, is a great place to visit).  We focused on exhibits that the kids would like and then we stumbled into one entitled, Maggie's Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care

Maggie Keswick Jencks was diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer and died in 1995.  Because of her experiences as a cancer patient, she was determined to help people "not lose the joy of living in the fear of dying."  Even after given only months to live, she worked tirelessly with medical professionals, architects, and designers to create a different kind of support for cancer patients.

The first Maggie Centre opened in 1996 and focused on providing those diagnosed with cancer and their families a place to receive a variety of emotional and social services.  One visitor said, "Maggie's provided me with a refuge - a sanctuary - part of the real world but somehow detached.  The world hadn't changed but cancer had totally changed who I was and I needed help to learn how to live again."  Yes. That. Exactly.

As I walked through the exhibit, I was so energized by Maggie's spirit.  I couldn't wait to get home and read more about her and the centre.  No matter who you are, where you are, you can make a difference, big or small.  I am so very grateful to know that Maggie Keswick Jencks walked this earth.

Today is #GivingTuesday.  I hope my post inspires you to further research the causes that are near and dear to your heart and that you find a way, no matter the footprint, to help those in need.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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