The Sharon Bassett Foundation
I learned a few weeks ago that I was going to be a recipient of a gift from the Sharon Bassett Foundation. Sharon Bassett was an Indiana woman who lived with breast cancer for nine years before she died in October 2002. One of the goals of her foundation is to make the lives of women with breast cancer a little better! You can read more about her foundation here.
I don’t know what I’m getting or when, yet. I’ll let you know more as I find out!
Earlier this week, I was at IU Cancer Center (where Sharon was treated by my doctor, George Sledge) for an appointment. I ran into my oncology nurse talking to a group of people, who turned out to be from the Sharon Bassett Foundation! They were waiting for WISH-TV to arrive to help them “ambush” a chemo patient with her surprise gift.
So, I found the WISH-TV video today and watched it – surprisingly, the person they ambushed was someone I know!
I met Angie last summer at the Danville pool. It had started as a horrible day for me. My daughter had been begging all summer to go to the pool, only I wasn’t that comfortable taking her. Besides the standard bathing suit issues I face every year, this year I had the additional struggles of having a half-boob and no hair. I had promised her the week before that we would go this day if the weather was good and I psyched myself up for it all week. I planned for days to wear a t-shirt that said, “Kiss me, I’m a chemo patient,” so that no one would have to wonder why I was bald. I was going to march up to that pool and jump in with my excited little girl and show her the time of her life!
Then, that morning dawned and Colleen was bouncing off the walls with excitement, of course. I think it was July already. She was overdue for a pool visit. And me? I woke up and my resolve to have a good time immediately disappeared. I begged Troy to take her or at least go with me so I wouldn’t have to face the pool crowd alone. Threw myself at his mercy. Gave myself an ulcer in about 30 minutes time. No doing. He was not interested. At one point, thinking he was doing me a favor, he even told Colleen we weren’t going. Of course, then began the meltdown-to-end-all-meltdowns – hers, not mine. It was when I heard her heartwrenching sobs that I dragged myself out of bed and, still crying (me, not her) drove over to the pool.
I could not have been more stressed. I’ve never had stagefright before on an actual stage. (Actually, most of the time, I’d much rather be ON a stage than OFF!) But I imagine it probably felt a lot like this. I had a running monologue in my head, “you have to do this, do not disappoint your daughter, don’t make eye contact with anyone, they are not looking at your boob, they might be looking at your cellulite but they are not looking at your boob, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, don’t look back.”
If anyone had jumped out and yelled, “BOO,” I would have punched them … or screamed like a girl.
So, I walk to the pool-level sunbathing area and start looking around for a place to sit or toss our stuff. It’s jam-packed. Not an empty chair in sight. I was even having a hard time finding concrete space to put our towels. I find a spot, then start to lay out a towel. Then, this woman comes rushing across the area straight toward me. She is screaming, “No, NO! No chemo patient is going to sit on the ground while I’m here!”
Oh, really, I don’t need someone to give up a chair. We are fine, really. I didn’t mean to get THIS kind of attention with my shirt. Actually, I was hoping it would serve more as a billboard telling people to leave me the f*$k alone.
“Nope, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it is like to have chemo. You get a chair. You DESERVE a chair,” she tells me as she drags me to a recliner and unceremoniously dumps her teenage daughter out. Teenager out. Rosie in.
I size up this woman. She’s had chemo? But, she can’t be older than 36! And she has hair. I’m betting she was diagnosed at about the same age as me – maybe 2-3 years before. We are the same age!
“Why did you have chemo?” I ask. Breast cancer. More questions, more answers: we have the same oncologist. We both love him. She’s had thyroid cancer, also. And the cancer seems to have spread to some bones, but she seems to be handling it fabulously well! She has a daughter about Colleen’s age. They hit it off immediately.
I thought we would be at the pool for maybe an hour because I thought I would only be able to handle it that long. But I had Angie to talk to and Colleen and her daughter (Chloe, I think) to play with. I think I managed to stay out of the pool the entire time!
That day with Angie gave me the courage to go back a few more times, even though I had to go into the pool wearing a hat! I gave up worrying about the boob. (Angie just had a plastic boob herself!) And by the end of the summer, Colleen learned to swim underwater!
I tried to get in touch with Angie by email, but I never got a response. So, Angie, if you are reading this, contact me! I’d love to see you again and tell you how you made what could have been a really miserable day for me turn out really nice.
If you’d like to “meet” Angie and hear a bit about her Sharon Bassett Foundation award, view the WISH-TV video here.