The Stories That Don’t Make Headlines

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a social issues theatre class. I was the youngest person in it. Everyone else was a junior or senior. A couple of them were even nontraditional students (in this context, adult learners), and one of them already had a kid. That wasn’t a norm at my Big Ten school, where students ages 18-22 were the standard for undergrads.

It was an intimate class. There were less than 10 of us, and that was atypical for a public university with tens of thousands of students. I liked it because I got to know everyone by name. Given the themes of the course and the class size itself, we were able to engage in profound discussions that I didn’t normally have in lectures with hundreds of classmates.

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Image from Flickr

One of the people I got to know in the social issues theatre course was Lawrence Haynes. I performed in one of the plays he wrote for class. Generally, I found him to be a warm, welcoming, and introspective person. He was kind to everyone.

He graduated the same year we took social issues theatre together, but we stayed connected through Facebook, which was relatively new at the time.

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When the Caring Person Needs Care

More than a month and a half after I received my breast cancer diagnosis, I attended a support group for women who had all types of cancer. During the latter part of the session, a breast cancer survivor introduced herself and wanted to find out what brought me to the group. After learning that I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer, she gave me her contact information and offered to talk to me further about resources.

Within a few days, I emailed her, and we were able to talk on the phone a day later. She shared her story with me, outlined the challenges she faced, and provided advice for my next steps.

“Get a Keurig, ” she told me. I almost told her that I was a tea drinker, but I was intrigued by her specific recommendation. I asked her why she suggested a Keurig. Then she explained that people could serve themselves when they visited me. I wouldn’t have to worry about serving them.

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Photo from Flickr

Something about her recommendation sat with me in a funny way. I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then it occurred to me how much she had thought about serving other people when she had been the one in dire need during her recovery.

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