I received an email a while ago; one of those generic emails from a woman soliciting my input in support of her foundation. She asked that I consider sharing her story, but also my story on her website. Her cause is a good one; the fight against cancer. Specifically, her husband had died from lung cancer. I saved the email thinking I might reply to her. I never did. However, her inquiry into what inspires me intrigued me, so I saved her email.
When I think of inspiration I think of stories of hope and courage. However, inspiration is more than that. Inspiration should encourage me to move forward with my goals. It is not just a “feel good” story. Inspiration gives motivation and determination to keep going when I want to quit. So what does inspire me?
The woman with metastatic breast cancer who walked in the San Francisco Avon Walk last year. She inspires me. I had read about her through the Avon Foundation. I also found myself walking in front of her. I knew it was her as I listened to the woman behind me tell her walking partners about her treatment. She has Stage IV breast cancer and she will eventually die from the disease. She was on her fourth different drug treatment. The first three had stopped working to hold back the progression of the disease. She had entered into an experimental protocol that was designed to target the cancer cells. She took pills, but still had to go into the hospital once a month for an infusion. She also had to have blood tests and follow-up appointments to see if the new drugs were working. She is an inspiration. She was walking 39.3 miles through the hills of San Francisco with a debilitating disease that will kill her. I kept walking.
Babies are an inspiration. Little ones offer hope for the future; hope for a future without cancer. My great-niece was born while I was undergoing radiation treatment. I held her a few weeks later. As I looked at her sweet face and beautiful bald head I felt as if I were looking into a mirror. Here was a miniature version of me; of what I looked like in 2008. As I have watched her and her older brother grow I am reminded of how lucky I am to have such beauty in my life.
A co-worker just gave birth to twins. Another friend is pregnant. And yet another is hoping. While I don’t have children of my own, each birth, each pregnancy brings me joy. I am happy for them; for the growing families. I want to spend this year making baby blankets. New life keeps me knitting. (A hobby I have always enjoyed and am just getting back to).
My friend Tina is an inspiration. Her love and devotion to her family is beyond measure. She balances life on a small farm with a successful career. She cares for her mother with endless energy and determination. At times I feel overwhelmed with my responsibilities at work, but then a smile or kind word from Tina reminds me of how far I’ve come and I realize I’m here, living today, for a reason and a purpose.
Upon reflection, it is not a thing that inspires me. It is people. The people around me, whether it’s a chance meeting, family, or a lifelong friend. That is what inspires me. That is what keeps me going.If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. Now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.