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Imagine the following scenario:
You go into the doctor's office for a routine exam. You have a list of errands to run and many other important obligations to tend to, but you decided to take time out from your busy schedule to go ahead and get the exam over with. Sure, the results in the past have always been normal, and you're confident that there is nothing to worry about, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right?
You finish the exam and go about your merry way. You don't even give it a second thought, that is, until you get a call from the doctor's office a few days later. It turns out that the results are different this time.
Something's wrong. The doctor needs to meet with you.
Panic sets in. Before you can even hang up the telephone your body goes numb. Your breath becomes short. Your heart is practically beating outside of your chest. And your mind immediately goes blank, except for one thought... "It's cancer."
Now, imagine sitting in the doctor's office and actually hearing those words... "You have cancer."
For people that haven't experienced that scenario, it's difficult to imagine what it would feel like... impossible actually. However, for those people who have experienced that scenario, only they know how terrifying those words truly sound.
Sandy Brady of Lebanon knows, along with hundreds of other Marion Countians. Brady, who is featured on our front page this week in honor of Relay for Life, admits that when she first heard those words she completely panicked. But speaking to her now, one would never know it. She is confident and has an unwavering spirit. In fact, her spirit is contagious. When I spoke with her Thursday I left her home feeling energized and upbeat. Like Brady, we all have our own personal struggles, and listening to Brady talk about hers was inspiring. In fact, listening to her talk about the deadly disease of cancer and how it has made her have a new zest for life really struck a chord inside me. She told me that having cancer has taught her to not sweat the small stuff, which I have always done and continue to do. She said she doesn't worry about petty things, such as small town gossip, and instead focuses on more important things, like her family. She is just so grateful to be alive and she doesn't let anything get her down.
While listening to Brady talk about the very difficult parts of having cancer and laughing with her about the funny tidbits about the disease (there are some believe it or not) I found myself becoming envious of her in the sense that I wish I could be as carefree and full of life as she is. She is truly just so thankful to be alive and sometimes I think it takes a traumatic experience, such as finding out that you have a deadly disease, to truly understand what life is all about and to appreciate every day as if it were your last.
Another part of our discussion that has left a lasting impression on me is the comments she made about how having cancer has taught her to not judge people. If she sees someone and they don't speak, she doesn't judge that person or assume that he or she is being a snob. Maybe that person is having a bad day. Or, maybe that person has a lot on his or her mind. No matter what the reason, she doesn't question that person's character or put that person down. She simply goes about her business and, more than likely, says a little prayer for him or her just in case they need it.
I gained a new perspective about life during my conversation with Sandy Brady on Thursday afternoon. I told someone that in a weird way, I think I was supposed to talk to her, as if it was something that was meant to happen. The things she said had a tremendous impact on me and made me stop and think about what is truly important in this life. We could all learn a great deal from someone like Sandy Brady. And while she is a very humble woman, and has no clue that her words had such an impact on me, she is an inspiration. She was faced with an unbelievably frightening situation and she not only conquered it but she has made herself a better more positive person because of it.
It was an honor and a privilege to have met her. I'm now one of her biggest fans.
While reflecting on my conversation with Brady to write this column, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes. I'm not sure who said it but I ran across it recently. The quote is taped on my circulation clerk's desk.
"Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
If we all lived by those words, this world would be a much better place, with much nicer people.
Thank you Sandy.
You said that you live a simple life, and it is your life that has changed mine.