The HatI am a Mom. A busy Mom. I often am known to be a person that 'takes charge'. If you met me, you would hear me say things like, "If you want something done, do it yourself".
You'll find me organizing school fundraisers, helping in the classroom and supervising field trips. I bet you know me better than you think because I am probably just like you or your own mother, wife, daughter or sister: the woman who takes care of all the details in their family's lives while often forgetting about the little things she should be doing for herself.
But that was me seven years ago, not today. That was before breast cancer. And before the hat.
I was proud to say I was a 'doer' and a 'giver', the first one to respond when one needed help.
Breast cancer is not my entire story, but it did become a fraction of my life. It not only opened doors to a whirlwind of valuable lessons, it blew the windows right out of their frames.
As incredible as it might be for some to believe, breast cancer has been one of the best things that ever happened in my life.
When it came time for chemotherapy and I would be losing my hair, I had to figure out how I was going to present my new self to the world. Forget the emotional issues, of which there are many. I needed a loss-of-hair plan.
I considered my options: I could wear a wig. Perhaps a hat. Maybe a bandana. Or maybe I could just go about without any covering.
I ultimately decided I would wear a wig when out in public, use hats for extra warmth over the cold winter months and be hairless and use bandanas for around the house. A shopping trip was in order.
Looking at wigs and the reality of what was happening inside my body was daunting and I was grateful when my friend, Barb, offered to go with me. Barb had been my rock throughout the initial discovery of the lump and continued to be for every step of the way.
Barb's presence, support, encouragement, faith and love redefined the meaning of friendship and unconditional love.
So there we found ourselves at a wig salon at the hospital. We chose a beautiful wig that was like my own hair, some sleep caps, a bandana.
And the hat.
It was a black, soft fabric with a brim and a silver butterfly on the band.
As the items were being rung up at the cash register, Barb grabbed the hat and said, "I want to buy this for you."
I protested, as I often did when offered help.
The man in the shop stopped me and said, "Please let your friend buy this hat for you."
We looked at him in surprise and then he spoke to me.
"While the cancer is hard for you, it is also very hard for those who love you. They want to do something to make it go away, to make it better, to ease your journey and there is very little that they can do."
"If other people want to buy you something that you are going to need, or go with you to treatments, or make you a meal, you must allow them to do this because this is their part of the journey as well."
His words resonated inside me and combated with my do-it-yourself mentality. The weight of his words pushed my stubbornness aside.
I let Barb buy me the hat. We hugged, we cried. I wore the hat home.
I took his advice and referred to it often during that time in my life. In fact, I have never forgotten those words: allow people to help.
I have opened my heart and my mind to others around me since that day.
Even though my hair has since grown in long again, I still have the hat. I know I'll keep it forever as a reminder of a truly significant lesson: letting people share your burdens.
I've learned that some events in our lives are meant to allow others to hold us up. Every morning, I give thanks for the day and for the blessings in my life. Breast cancer has given me a second look. Another kick at the can to, as I call it every day, "get it right or as close to right as possible".
While I'm feeling thankful for each of those mornings and the ones I'm fortunate enough to have, I also ask to be given opportunities that help make a difference in the world. But more importantly, to let others make a difference as well.
We all have opportunities to shine our light.
What small or large moment in your life has shown you this world is still a great place? Click 'submit a story' at the top right of this web page to share with agreatplace.ca.