At 13 years old, most kids in Crested Butte spend their time going to school, playing sports, going to the movies, and hanging out with friends. My 13-year-old life consisted of surgeries, chemotherapy, long car rides to Denver, and hospital stays too many to count. I had stage II ovarian cancer.
Both a blessing and a burden, my dad happened to lose his job just weeks before we learned of my illness. The timing couldn’t have been better because the aggressive treatments I was receiving required a full-time caregiver. Of course, it also couldn’t have been worse given that we were a family of five living off one income and were now trying to pay for expensive and extensive medical care.
Then one day, out of the clear blue, we received an anonymous donation for thousands of dollars. It was generosity beyond anything I had ever known; generosity that my family and I desperately needed. For years, I wondered who it was who had shown me such kindness. I silently thanked him or her every day of my treatment, which eventually became my recovery.
When I returned to Gunnison Valley several years ago, my mother informed me that she had learned who made the donation and I couldn’t wait to meet him. I wanted to let this man know how much his act of kindness had impacted my life. Not only was I able to receive the care I needed, but it inspired me to become a nurse – so that I too could contribute to the well-being of others should their health suddenly slip, like mine did, from being precious to precarious.
Facing cancer as a child was terrible and scary. I remember it as dark, filled with shadows and worry — not just mine, but my family’s too. But in my case, the ugly also brought a most unexpected gift, a collateral beauty, and inspiration, from a complete and total stranger. The man who made that donation changed my life and I still thank him every day.
Secretary of the Board of Directors, Living Journeys