I worked in the field of organ donation for about a decade and I was SOOOO inspired by the people personally touched by this cause.
These are transplant recipients who would have died if it weren't for a life saving organ from a complete stranger. These are donor family members whose loved ones died in the most sudden and tragic of ways, children even. And in their darkest moment, their deepest grief, they were able to look beyond themselves and give life to others. It gave me hope for humanity.
It was my job to help these folks tell their stories and make them more powerful so that when they went into the community they could inspire others to consider organ donation for themselves.
And it was great work. But the truth is...I was jealous. I wanted to go into the community. I wanted to get people to consider things for themselves. I wanted to inspire. But I am a middle class white girl from Los Angeles who had no challenges to overcome. I have a great education, a great marriage, a great relationship with my parents...not even my children have anything wrong with them. I got nothing.
So I said to the Universe, "Universe, I want a challenge to overcome and in the overcoming I want to inspire others." I did put in a qualification or two. I said it shouldn't have anything to do with my kids because I thought it was wrong to call death or disease upon my son and daughter so I had something to talk about. Also I asked that my husband be an innocent bystander, because he has enough of my crazy to deal with.
Then I waited. And the Universe did what the Universe always does. The Universe delivered. And the Universe delivered big. The Universe gave me cancer.
At first the doctors thought it was pancreatic cancer, which would have killed me in a matter of months, but I did NOT ask to die...I asked to overcome. Further tests revealed that it was lymphoma, which is great because lymphoma is totally treatable. The other cool thing about lymphoma is how it is "staged." The vast majority of my cancer was in my abdomen, which is stage 2, but because 2% was in my bone marrow I technically had stage 4 cancer. And everyone knows it is WAY more inspiring to overcome stage 4 cancer than stage 2.
So I had my challenge and I burst out on Facebook, "I have cancer!!" I told people not to feel sorry for me. I called my eight hour chemo treatments my "Spa Days." I took pictures of my port and called myself bionic. I worked for 4 of my 6 rounds of chemo. I looked amazing bald and took a fierce photo shoot. I even ran the warrior dash, jumped over fire and climbed through mud to raise money for St. Jude. I was pretty much a bad-ass.
And to this day day people tell me, "the way that you overcame cancer with such grace and style and positivity was so...inspiring!" So I did it. I inspired.
But there was a moment on this journey when I realized what true inspiration was.
It was four days after a treatment and I had worked all day and traffic was horrible and I was exhausted. Completely and utterly exhausted. And the kids were starving and I had no food in the house and I was standing in front of an empty refrigerator. And I was about to lose it...when the doorbell rang. And it was this dad of a kid that my kids go to school with, but we weren't really even that good of friends. And he had dinner. He had salmon and steamed broccoli and a home made pie.
And it was in that moment that I realized that you do NOT need to have a transplant or lose a child or ask the Universe for cancer in order to be inspiring. Inspiration happens in small gestures of kindness and generosity. I realized that sometimes all you have to do to be inspiring...is bake a blueberry pie.
And THAT gives me hope for humanity.
A Bit About Me
I am Tenaya, a communications strategist and public speaker telling stories that connect, inspire...and laugh.