I have decided to submit this post for Blog Action Day 2012. The theme is The Power of We.... THIS is all about how WE can make a global difference. WE are powerful... Together....
This celebration is far from ordinary. It is a beautiful story of a bond between two women. One in New Zealand and one in Canada. Already connected because of their shared diagnosis of metastatic inflammatory breast cancer. Soon to be physically connected by way of the UK through NY. Because of something started in Michigan.
The traveling pants. The Stage 4 Traveling Pants. My concluding piece in this celebration is in honor of the Stage IV patients. Our sisters. Those for whom I am a #FearlessFriend. Those words have been repeated many times by me and by several others.
If you are along for my wild ride, you may remember this evening. I wrote a blog post hoping that Suzanne in Canada would realize there are real people who heard her and who are listening. There are times in this cancer gig that can be very lonely. Suzanne's words were raw. I just wanted her to know she wasn't alone. Even though she couldn't really feel or see us, she wasn't alone.
After writing the post, I began catching up on my reading. I was "back blogged" and had lots of catching up to do. There are a number of blogs I follow and I had tabs on Jenny in New Zealand. She made a decision to stop treatment. Choosing quality over quantity, she was going to live on her terms. My heart broke when I read her words.
I connected with Jenny on twitter almost a year ago. Knowing she was on borrowed time, I made sure to check in on her frequently. Except, I missed a blogpost. The post about the pants. She had these pants in New Zealand. She went visiting with them. She chronicled her travels with the pants. I knew I had to arrange for those pants to get to Canada. It would be a nice way for Suzanne to know there ARE real people behind the computer screen. I sent a tweet to Jenny.
Hours later, we were chatting online about the pants. I told her what I wanted to do. I may have sent her the link to Suzanne's original note which is what started this wave of connectedness. Within moments, Jenny announces, "I know Suzanne from a closed Facebook group." She went on to explain how she felt when she heard that Suzanne learned her cancer was metastatic.
broke my heart when she was diagnosed stage 4 as well because even if you come to terms with own diagnosis you want others to beat the odds
That is Jenny. Selfless and beautiful and kind. We were talking back and forth and we were coordinating with Shannon. The Pants were Shannon's idea. She started these pants on a journey in honor of her younger sister who is a stage IV patient. You can read about Shannon and Stephanie and the pants on the blog or on the Facebook page. When we realized that Jenny and Suzanne KNEW each other, it seemed like it would be so special if Suzanne got the pants directly from Jenny.
Before we could get all the coordinating under control, Jenny already shipped the pants to the UK. Originally a bit disappointed, I was soon oddly comforted by the zig zag travel from NZ to the UK to NY to Quebec. Had they gone straight to Canada, I would not have seen the pants. Touched the pants. You see, before the pants arrived in the UK, Jenny took a turn for the worse and the day after the pants were shipped from the UK, Jenny died.
It was not unexpected but it was far sooner than anyone expected. Jenny's story is very special and it's worth reading her blog to see what happened from June 2nd when her older daughter got married through August 1 when that same daughter informed all of her cyber buddies that she died.
Have I lost you yet? The pants arrived at my home on August 11th. I waited until I was alone to open the package. I had tears streaming down my face within seconds of opening the package. I saw all of notes that Jenny left on the pants, in her book and in a card. I cried as my fingers caressed the ink marks and everything that Jenny had touched.
I would not write on the pants. Instead, I attached a small notebook with a safety pin. I put my treasured METAvivor pin on the pants, wrote a note to Suzanne and sent them on their way. I was CERTAIN Suzanne knew about the pants. I was SURE this was not going to be a surprise but I didn't care. Given what had happened to Jenny, I was grateful that I had the chance to see the pants. To physically touch something of Jenny.
Suzanne did get the pants and in another wonderful twist of serendipity....... well...... she was commenting on THIS blog as her husband was opening a package... Have a look:
I was THERE for her reaction! What are the odds? How wonderful that I was able to be there! And, if I haven't completely confused you altogether, Colleen is the person who started this whole thing. It was HER message on twitter that directed me to Suzanne.
As for the rest of the story, Suzanne will be sending the pants to METAvivor for an Author's Luncheon which is an annual fund raising event. When I added my METAvivor pin to the pants, I was hoping CJ might send me another. That's how I found out about this luncheon. Since the inspiration for the pants is the book, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," it seems a good place for the pants to be on display. From there, they are scheduled to head to Belgium to Jeannie who has been patient and gracious with what Shannon has referred to as a "Traveling Pants Emergency Pit Stop" on the Facebook page.
While the pants were in my possession, another woman who signed the pants also died. Marie Gabel took the pants on a tour of the Jersey Shore. Those pants were in Wildwood with Marie. I spent many summers when my kids were young vacationing on those very beaches. More Sadness.
And I was touched when I saw this pin, knowing that Dr. Love is having her bone marrow transplant at City of Hope......
Nothing, however could prepare me for the decorations left by the girl in the UK who sent the pants to me. Given how this Celebration of the Ordinary began on Sunday with my first photograph and the accompanying story, THIS was one more reminder that I am on the right path. Affixed to the pants in the UK..... I was the first one to see the latest decorations added to the pants. What Are The Odds?
And that, my dear friends, is what I call "Full Circle" ...... My Celebration from Ordinary to EXTRA-Ordinary. What a beautiful tapestry has been woven. What wonderful connections have been made. What sweet and bittersweet serendipity. What a week!