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Chemo-grams

Throughout my treatment, I had two aunts who never failed to send me a card every week or so to let me know that though they were thinking of me, and pulling for me to make it through.

I’ve never forgotten how much it meant to receive those notes. While talking on the phone or writing emails about my situation exhausted me, finding a small envelope of hope mixed in with the bills and insurance breakdowns was such an energy booster. No matter what I felt like before the mail came, those cards never failed to elevate my mood – and my day.

Now that the book is out and we’re meeting people at signings and events, one of the most common questions Debbie and I receive is how a person can help when a friend or loved one becomes ill. And our advice is simple and always the same: no matter what you do – do something.

This doesn’t mean going on constant visits, making daily calls or sending elaborate gifts. Small helpful actions: bringing her kids home from the school bus, or offering to pick up a prescription if she’s too tired to get out can mean so much – even if the help is declined. No one wants to feel isolated or forgotten. By extending the hand of friendship to a woman who is sick and perhaps feeling too embarrassed to ask for help that she is not alone.

At our first reading, a gentleman came up to the signing table and sheepishly admitted that he’d been so shocked by the news of a co-worker’s diagnosis, he’d become paralyzed with fear of doing the wrong thing, and so had not yet done anything at all.

Listening to this story of my two aunts made him realize that simple actions really could make a difference – and that there were plenty of easy ways he could let his colleague know the office was rooting for her success.

So in addition to his copy of Beauty Pearls, he bought a few cards and left the store with a smile. Armed with the knowledge that he could make a difference, he set off to empower his co-worker, and in the process managed to empower himself.

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