Years later a cancer diagnosis oddly granted me my wish. My new family of survivor sisters are the thousands of women who’ve gone through the shock of cancer diagnosis, the agonizing stretch of surgeries and treatment, and are still around empowered, thankful and inspiring others.
I met a new survivor sister in Hillsboro, OR at the Funky Junk Sisters Junk Salvation Vintage Market this past February. She was working at the Mack and Momma booth with her friend, Chris. She sat huddled on a chair wrapped in a heavy coat with a cute fuzzy knit hat pulled low over her bare head. We made eye-contact and I recognized her look – it was the same one mirrors reflected back at me some eight years ago after diagnosis, four surgeries, and three rounds of chemo. It spoke of heartache, nausea, and the pain of a long haul of treatment on a very bumpy road to recovery.
I knew that expedition all too well.
My heart ached for this dear woman so I went over to her and asked if she was okay.(A dumb thing to ask a cancer survivor.) She resisted my question at first – I understood, but I’m tenacious and needed to let her know she would get through this part of the bumpy road. Throughout the day I’d smile at her and ask if we could get her anything. Finally as our customer flow began to lull, I told her I had some idea how she felt as I too had gone through chemo for my breast cancer treatment years before. Her eyes opened wide at my revelation.
“YOU had breast cancer too?”
We began to talk. She opened up to me and by the time we’d finished packing up, we’d exchanged email addresses, and a few tears and hugs. She still faced a couple more chemo treatments and then had to begin a long radiation stint. I reminded her of her enormous courage and how far she'd already come through her journey. I told her I would pray for her everyday.
And I did. Kimberlee stayed on my mind and in my heart and prayers as new blooms filled the fruit trees and bright blossoms opened in the Northwest spring time air. However, I did manage to misplace her hand-written email address.
As the date of the May FJS Junk Salvation Vintage Market in Puyallup drew closer and the logistics finalized I saw that Mack and Momma would be there. I had the faintest hope of seeing Kimberlee again, but I didn’t think it was very likely.
I was wrong.
With only a few hours to set up The Garden Cat for the Friday night opening and still drive back 50 miles to pick up Sweet Girl from school, I was frantically unloading and flinging my treasures onto my tables. I was lost in my thoughts and more than a little stressed out. Then I felt her presence. I looked up to see the beautiful smile, indeed beautiful face of Kimberlee.
|Kimberlee of Mi' Lady and Chris of Mack & Momma|
at the May FJS Junk Salvation Vintage Market in Puyallup.
Kimberlee with new tiny hair and a victorious radiance that went way beyond the months of radiation she had endured. She looked healthy and on the downhill side of the road to full recovery. All my stress suddenly ceased and only this moment mattered. I stood and hugged her so jubilantly – so happy to see her again – so happy for her! So thankful for her smile.
So very thankful to call her a survivor sista!
A very special THANK YOU to Dixie and Linda for another extraordinary Junk Salvation Vintage Market!! Love you girls.
Peace, love, and keep on surviving my sistas!!