While Valentine’s Day can make one think of candy and flowers or romantic love, I tend to think of this day more about general love and gratitude. That’s not to say that I don’t reflect on love or express gratitude any other days of the year, but in particular, I try to approach Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate and show appreciation for those that have touched my life in some form or fashion in the past year. Because of those extensions of love and support shown to me, I have somehow managed difficult times and stressful situations regardless of the circumstances. This is a gift unto itself—who doesn’t need a helping hand at some point in their lives?
As I reflect upon the past year, I recognize that I am grateful for being exactly where I am. I joined the LIVESTRONG Foundation in October 2013. Like many others, I am no different in that I’ve been personally affected by cancer. It has touched the lives of many of my loved ones, and therefore, it has touched me. From a very early age, this disease impacted my life before I even knew it, beginning with the loss of my paternal grandmother when I was six months old. From then on, it seems as though cancer has come in contact with my immediate and extended family at different points in time, and solidified its presence as a force to be reckoned with. As years have passed, I have lost family members to cancer, but I have also seen some family members be victorious in their courageous battles, which is a constant reminder of the ability to defy odds and the power of the human spirit.
As a social worker, I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings in my community, but something indescribable has always drawn me to the work of LIVESTRONG. I clearly remember the first day I ever set foot in this building two years ago. I knew from that moment on, at some point, I would find myself working here—I simply had to. I am honored to be a part of this great team now, as I have the privilege of overseeing the emotional support services that are available through our Cancer Navigation Center. As an emotional support manager, I assist our emotional support team in the great work they do directly supporting those affected by cancer.
What are emotional support services you ask? Well, the truth is that emotional support can look very different for each person because each and every person’s journey and connection to cancer is so very unique. What may be helpful for one person may not be helpful for another. I think of my own personal experiences in life and the times when I needed a certain type of support and how that may have ebbed and flowed depending on where I was with my particular struggles. This is the nature of the human spirit though; at different points in time, our needs and wants are variable. Our goal with LIVESTRONG emotional support services is to support you on your journey—whatever that journey looks like and whenever it occurs.
But what can emotional support look like? In terms of services available through LIVESTRONG, for some people, this may look like receiving support in the form of short-term counseling through LIVESTRONG. For others, it may look like being matched with a “mentor angel” through our partner Imerman Angels. This angel is just like you in terms of age, gender and familiarity with the specific type of cancer you are dealing with. Emotional support for you may end up being different than anything like what I’ve mentioned above. But, I assure you, whatever your journey is and whenever it is, LIVESTRONG will be here to support you.
As I reflect upon the past year for me personally, I am grateful for all the support I received from others both during good and not so good times. Each and every single day, I am overwhelmed with appreciation for resiliency and the human spirit. Here’s to many more years of support, both mutually giving and receiving.