Hair fairies and how it works

Chemo Gifts - Cancer is a WordOn Thursday evening, some friends of mine were asking about Chemo Gifts and how this whole thing works. They wondered how they could be more involved. I told them of having distributed most of the bags of encouraging quotes and the cotton gloves to the chemo treatment centers where my wife had been.

When it came to how they could help, I mentioned that life has a way of producing opportunities. I’ve had some friends over the last month who have friends of theirs or family members with cancer. And so I reach out and provide them with these Chemo Gifts as well. I said I’d continue to do that as needs arise but we all agreed we’d be on the lookout for other ways we could each use our own interests and talents to help those around us.

Then, two days later, out of the blue I get this email from an old college friend of mine, Carole:

“Well, I launched a kickstarter this week to help fund a project that is near and dear to my heart.  I left teaching to care for a former little preschool student of mine that got diagnosed with leukemia.  As we stepped onto this journey together,  her single mom wondered what was out there to help make so much of the scary business of getting her daughter Eva healthy again a little less scary.  She came up empty handed.  She wanted a story about dealing with hair loss and couldn’t find one.  So, I wrote one.  Now we have a brilliant illustrator burning the midnight oil to finish the illustrations.  That is what the kickstarter is for.  If we go over our goal, we can print the first run of this story and hand them to the kids affected by cancer treatment for free.  It is our promise to give these to families at no cost ever to them.”

Here’s the Kickstarter link if you’d like to help out. Even if you don’t want to donate, check out the video about Carole’s story regarding Eva and the hair fairies:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/738775374/the-legend-of-the-hair-fairies

The wonder of this is not just the timing, but how Carole is doing exactly what we were discussing: using her creative abilities to do something meaningful and useful for someone else.

Losing hair due to chemo seems, if you haven’t been through it, like a minor issue. After all, you’re battling for your life. Why worry about superficials like your hair? Except it isn’t just superficial. Your hair is part of you. Part of your identity. And to have it gone almost overnight can be devastating. Plus it signals to the world that you have cancer: It’s the first visual cue to others of your disease. And for both adults and little kids losing your hair can be scary, like an amputation, a part of yourself now detached.

We can explain the scientific reasons for losing your hair to chemo, but more comforting — more helpful — is the power of story. That’s what Carole has done. And as a result of her using a passion for writing for a little girl in need, she not only is touching the lives of Eva and her mother, but all the others who are now involved in this project.

That’s how it works.

 

Chemo Gifts: When delight and need intersect

Chemo Gifts

This is a painting I did for the nurses surrounded by the bags with encouraging verses and the gloves for chemo patients. The rest are the medical supplies there in the treatment center.

Lately I’ve realized that things which interest me most deal with the head, heart, hands and feet. Creativity, for example, does involve our head, our thinking. In the best cases, however, our creative efforts stem from and touch our hearts (and those of others) as well. Art, craft or the act of making usually requires using our hands. And travel – the simple movement from one point to another – utilizes our feet. Head, heart, hands and feet; all can be used for our own sakes. But they can also be employed to help other people.

I’ve long wrestled with this notion of using the things I love for others. It’s much easier to think about volunteering in areas of great need – homeless shelters, food banks, retirement homes, neighborhood clean-ups, mentoring, etc. – than in areas of great passion. But what if you could do both: help others and live from the place of your greatest joy?

Sometimes we find answers to such questions in the oddest places. I found my answer in a chemotherapy treatment center.

No one goes to such places for fun. In my case, it was to accompany my wife who has had to undergo both chemotherapy and radiation treatments this year due to breast cancer. She’s almost done with the year-long process and we’re incredibly grateful all has turned out well.

Yet in the midst of this, I got to know other patients going through chemotherapy. Out of that sprang the idea to create small presents – Chemo Gifts – to encourage those still in the midst of what can be quite brutal therapy. You can read about these Chemo Gifts here.

Creating these Chemo Gifts would have seemed borderline useless had we not just gone through chemo ourselves (and yes, while my wife took the brunt of it, it is a joint effort) and realized how meaningful small acts can be when life is stripped to its essentials. So I encourage you to read about my response but most of all, think about your own.

What do you love to do? How could you leverage that to help others?

These aren’t hard questions. But they are ones we often put off and never address. As we come out of Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to reflect on all we’re thankful for. It’s great to count our blessings. But even more meaningful is to be a blessing to others.

So take a minute or two and ask yourself, “What could I do? Who could I help?”

You might be amazed at what happens when you apply what brings you delight to what others need.