What’s ordinary? It’s a fascinating question to contemplate when evaluating the impact that one person might have on others. After all, don’t we all yearn to be exposed to the extraordinary in others, to be moved by the uncommon in a generally common world? Almost all of the participants in my book project, which explores the deep, emotional aspects of the cancer experience, consider themselves unexceptional. Sure, they might have to admit that some facets of their story, once properly uncovered and examined, might take our breath away for a minute, but it’s fascinating how unmoved they are about their own unimaginably moving journeys. What seems normal to them is anything but, and that’s where the magic of this project lies – in the beautiful and haunting truths painted by the colors of discovery in otherwise ordinary people. This is especially true with one book subject, who is as accepting and pragmatic about her life story as I know you will be fascinated and inspired by it.
She is a caregiver; someone who others rely on for both her practical knowledge and her ability to comfort. Her relationships are meaningful and deep and long lasting. She is a rock for those around her, because she knows what it takes to keep a positive and optimistic view on life. She humbly offers advice and works to help the people in her life deal with trauma and tough circumstances because she relates to their experience; she’s endured her fair share of strife and pain.
“When you’re just living your life,” she said, “You don’t think it’s so special. We all have to take our time in the barrel and sometimes, you’re just trying to make it to tomorrow.”
As a young adult she lived in fear; afraid she might not make it to tomorrow, afraid she might never be safe or free or happy. She was locked away, both figuratively and literally, in a horrible relationship, and endured several years of abuse, but escaped to live another day and even find real love. She has since thrived in a healthy, fulfilling marriage for more than three decades. She thought escaping and moving forward would make it so she’d never see the inside of a hospital room again, but cancer hit her hard. She knew how to fight, how to survive, and how to overcome, so she did. And she has overcome five different battles with cancer over a 30-year span. She’s walked by death’s door – it has appeared many times along the hallways of her ordinary life – and she knows the realities of a finite existence.
When talking to her, you can’t help but admire her ability to accept the obstacles that have been thrown at her, be amazed by her unsullied view that the world is a beautiful place, and learn from her sensible approach towards overcoming adversity and trauma.
I know you’ll think her anything but ordinary. I look very forward to bringing you her story.