The Power of Kindness – The Power of One!
By Teresa Schwarz
10 years ago life changed. I heard the words from my family doctor – you have cancer. It was endometrial cancer.
From my Wellspring work experience, I knew it was a good idea to bring someone to my follow up appointment. Unfortunately all the wonderful women in my life could not make the scheduled time. What was I going to do? My husband and I were not together and I could not ask my only child. He was frightened enough by the diagnosis. So my amazing nephew (my godson), Francesco at the age of 27 stepped forward and asked if he could attend. He came to the appointment and wrote down the answers to my questions. He also asked some of his own and paid close attention as the doctor took out a model of “lady parts” to show us the location of the cancer. After the appointment we went to my vehicle and sat together as he read me the responses to the questions. I can truly say I had not heard all that was shared so I was grateful he was there. As I looked at him seated next to me that day, I could not have loved this young man more. Kindness one – the power of one.
After several bumps in the road I was put in the hands of Dr. Jill Nation to do my surgery. Although my mom wanted to be with me, my son Kurtlin needed to be there more. So, she kindly stepped aside so he could come and be with me as I headed off to surgery. He was able to stay with me until we were just outside the surgical suite. Unfortunately, the young resident that came out to speak to us not only reviewed the risks, he added that I could possibly die during surgery. DIE – I saw my son’s heartbreak and fear and immediately stopped the resident. I knew the risk from other surgeries in my life but my son had never experienced this pre-surgery talk. Dr. Nation heard about the incident and quickly came out to speak to us. She tried to reassure my son but the words were out there and he had heard them. This is what she did… she asked for his cell number. She assured him she would stop the surgery at the half way mark and call him from the operating room to provide an update. I could not believe the thoughtfulness and compassion of this brilliant woman. The relief on my son’s face gave me the strength to go into surgery and leave him. The procedure took several hours and she kept that promise. Kindness two – the power of one.
It came in the form of a dear friend and Wellspring volunteer, Nancy Wright. Each year a group called Cancervive raises funds for Wellspring Calgary. That year they were heading to Austin, Texas. Nancy, an experienced cyclist, asked to put together a team in my honour. It felt awkward but I said yes to raising funds for Wellspring and to riding together. As long as we did not call it Team Teresa, I was ok to move forward. The bike ride gave me something joyous to look forward to. In the car after a night of potential riders coming together to select a name, the team name WOW emerged – Woman on Wheels. Later, two wonderful men joined the team and we become the BOW-WOWs, Boys on Wheels – Woman on Wheels. One shining star, one idea taking life and flight. We began with one, then became two, then six, then finally 18 riders. Five months after surgery, this amazing team made up of childhood and new friends, colleagues and my sister Rose (who reminded us that hard work + determination + 18 incredible teammates = infinite ability to get you to the finish line), together walked 5k one day and then the next day rode up to 90k, raising over $60,000 for Wellspring. Kindness three – the power of one.
Having a cancer diagnosis can create an enormous shift in the way you look at life. I can share that since that day of diagnosis, the last ten years have been filled with tremendous joy. I have held several roles at my cherished Wellspring. I had the opportunity to witness my treasured nephew Francesco get married to a wonderful young women and then become the dad of three beautiful girls. I have seen my much loved son, Kurtlin grow into the remarkable man he is today and skillfully manage our family business. I continue to have the pleasure of working with Nancy as she shares her gifts with staff, volunteers and those living with cancer. Please never forget that one person and one act of kindness can make all the difference. It did for me!
“I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”
– Mother Teresa