Monday, June 7, 2010

The Power of Us

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer. After determining her type and her course of treatment, she decided to have a radical mastectomy followed by a 15 month treatment of chemotherapy and radiation --


Upon getting the news, Jill didn't hesitate to call for help...realizing that this fight was bigger than her petite, just-over-5-foot frame. And, with four children, she knew that there was absolutely no way she could undertake her fight alone.

Jill's mastectomy is scheduled for this Thursday, and Jill's sister Stacey asked all of Jill's friends to gather together last night for one big group hug. And it was a great idea.

Jill hugged by her Mom

And so, at least 40 of Jill's friends and family came together, channeling all their strength and adding it to Jill's...demonstrating that she isn't alone on her road to perfect health.


I couldn't help but think of a metaphor...of how a commander would call together his troops the night before a battle and celebrate their strength...donning armor, smearing war paint, sharpening their weapons...preparing for the big fight.


That's what this reminded me of...and I liked it. And as I started to think about it...I wanted to make Jill her own version of armor...a magic cloak, if you will...a prayer shawl...a visual symbol of the group hug. Something to be with her through the long hours of chemotherapy and recovery.


And I added pockets to the inside so that she could carry special prayers from those who love her...or pictures drawn by her kids...or the comics...


I believe in the strength of our collective prayers. We are so powerful when we come together to support someone we love. But it also helps to be needed...to be asked to help.

And that's what I learned from Jill this week. She didn't hesitate to say she needed us...and it was like sounding a battle horn...everyone came. And she set up a support network on Lotsahelpinghands (it's free!) to coordinate meals, childcare and chemotherapy trips.

Jill's Mom, Jill and her sister Stacey
And what a beautiful and powerful way to begin the fight. We love you Jill.

P.S. I know there are many of you who read this blog who are cancer survivors. Jill is open to any and all suggestions that may help her in her 15-month fight if you'd care to share them.

30 comments:

Catherine said...

You never cease to amaze and inspire me!! I love the thoughts and power behind your creation. May it provide Jill with much comfort in the times that are to come. Your pictures captured some very powerful moments. A very inspiring post indeed. I will keep your friend and family in my thoughts and prayers.

Carol said...

Even looking at her pictures, I feel this girl has emence strength. Calling for help was part of her battle plan. Knowing that her friends are helping to take care of some of her concerns, leaves her just that much more power to fight the foe.

Each time she looks at or wears the shawl, she'll touch the hearts and feel all the love that you all are giving her.

You are all good friends.

Heather J. said...

What a WONDERFUL way to support a friend. I wish Jill much success in her upcoming battle.

Gerry Krueger said...

ONG She is sooooooo young and what a beautiful smile. She is just radiant...no wonder she has so many friends... I'll put a heart on my computer to remember to send her positive thoughts...

Gerry K.

Lisa said...

What a beautiful and strengthening way to begin a difficult journey. The prayer pockets are such a great idea! Wish your friend all the best.

Kaite said...

what a wonderful group hug and a courage shawl, whatever happens one thing is sure - Jill will be well supported and loved and everyone will benefit by sharing that love together...k.

coral-seas said...

Uh oh, tears at work again! I knew that you healing hearts would have a special purpose. The hearts, the prayer pockets, as usual you have put so much thought and love into your gift. Now you have sent that battle cry around the world because I know your readers will all now be supporting Jill with their toughts and prayers.

Robbie said...

To have a friend, is to be a friend........you and Jill are both lucky and she'll do just fine!! With all this support and friendship!!!

Rachel said...

Very best wishes to Jill for the months ahead. I know the shawl will be a hug from a friend whenever she needs one.

Michelle said...

Sending your friend much love and positive thoughts during the coming months. Your comfort shawl is beautiful and I'm sure each time she puts it on she will feel a hug from a friend. Such lovely photos all showing the love and friendship which is all around her.

With love... Shell (the one who keeps changing her name)

leilani said...

Jill has taken the first, most important step -- surrounding herself with love, support and friendship.

There is a wonderful organization that was a source of comforting information for me throughout my diagnosis, surgery and treatment--breastcancer.org. I believe knowledge is power. I recommend them highly.

I add my good thoughts to all the others being sent. May they settle lightly on her beautiful shawl.

Allison Ann Aller said...

A beautiful soul in a circle of love...

MosaicMagpie said...

Jill,
I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Even though I don't know you personally, I will hold you in my heart. Your prayer shawl is beautiful and I'm sure you will find comfort in knowing your good friend thought and prayed for you while making it.
Debbie

Bellesanbeaus said...

This was such a touching post. Your needle work is just too awesome for words. This prayer shawl is such a touching gift for your friend to receive...what a loving gesture for her to be wrapped in her friends strength in the hard months to come. My prayers go out to her and her friends and family. Beth

Margaret said...

What a bummer. I found that talking to the other ladies while waiting our turn for radiation was the greatest support of all. Doesn't take long to become true friends when you are all sick and bald together. There is even room for a few laughs that others would never find funny. Good luck. A good many of us have survived.
Margaret

Dees said...

What a wonderfull idea, both of Jill's twinsister to gather all troops before battle... and of you: making a heartfull prayer shawl.
I got one this spring from someone I have only met on Facebook, and it does mean so much to bundle up in the warm and loving thoughts of another human being when feeling lost and hurt.
Whatever her battle may bring her: Jill has all of you to hold her. That's the best treatment for the soul.

MosaicMagpie said...

I mentioned you on my blog today as a source of inspiration.
Debbie

Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a beautiful post!! With all that love and support I'm sure your friend will beat this!

Loralynn said...

This post choked me up. How wonderful for her that she has so many loving hands to help her. I wish her all the best in her fight.

Dave said...

I just wanted to take a moment to say how honored, humbled and touched I am to have seen the outpouring of support, prayer and strength for Jill. As her husband, I have always been able to look in her eyes and know what she's feeling - but this is a path none of us ever expected to feel. Since the diagnosis, I can honestly state that I can't tell what she's thinking all of the time lately, but I can tell that she is feeling all of the wishes and positivity from everyone near and far from us.

Keep her in your prayers this Thursday (for surgery) and every day.

Thanks and hugs for all,
Dave

Elizabeth said...

I really needed to see this post today!! Jill is so blessed to have you and all of her friends. We MUST ask for help when we need it!!!!I will be sending her all the very best wishes that one can muster. Your shawl is beautiful and I love the pocket idea!!!

Whytefeather said...

Jill is a lucky woman so have so many who care so much. What an amazing powerful group of women to give her support and that special shawl to surround her with love while she works toward regaining her health. I'll be keeping her in my thoughts with much strength and healing going her way.

One of my sister-in-laws went through something similar and these many years later has no regrets about that choice.

beth said...

That shawl is sooo perfect!! A beautiful gift that will be a constant reminder of loved ones and her faith as she goes through the cancer battle!

Front Range Stitcher said...

Susan, the prayer shawl is beautiful and awe-inspiring in so many ways. Your instinct to help by posting Jill's story has galvanized us all to keep her, her family and friends close at heart during this journey. I am proud to be one of many sending my prayers and best wishes their way.

Ingrid Mida said...

What a beautiful and powerful shawl of love you created for Jill. And gathering together to give her strength to fight the battle is an incredible idea. She is lucky to have you as a friend.

Anonymous said...

I hope & pray Jill does well with her treatment plan...her family & friends are boosting her up...what an inpirational story...your shawl will surely comfort her in the days to come...what a precious friend she has in you....

beadbabe49 said...

Keeping friends and family close is a very good way to begin her treatment...
As a breast cancer survivor, I would also share with her to take the difficult days ahead one day at a time...to try to take on more can be very counter-productive.
I also took my best friend to my chemo treatments with me and we both did beadwork during the procedure. It kept me focused and peaceful during the 2.5 hours each treatment took.
Please tell jill she's in my thoughts.

Laurie said...

Wishing all strength and love to Jill in her coming year. Please keep us posted on how she does. You know, this post made me want to cry because I have a beautiful, dear friend facing the same thing, only it's colon and not breast cancer, but very aggressive treatment. The thing is, she won't tell people, won't let anyone help, won't return calls...it just makes me want to weep for what she's missing: exactly the power you are all giving to your dear friend.

Phillipa said...

Hey Laurie. Sounds as tho your friend needs a group hug shawl and she doesnt know it. Why not make her one anyway.Im sure even tho she is doing the ostrich thing,. "If I cant see it,or if no-one knows, maybe it will go away".
A tangible tactile shawl maybe just the thing to help her out,something to vent her emotions on.
Just a thought.I hope I make a wee bit of sense here.

bubbygigi said...

Jill, I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck with your fight.
Gita

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