During my years as a navigator, I saw and heard many things that had me close to tears. But, there was only one time when I couldn’t help myself; I lost it. I broke down and cried. I had to excuse myself and leave the chemo infusion room.
Making the rounds, from chair to chair, in the infusion center, I stopped to visit with Madeline. She looked frailer than when I saw her the week before. She had an aggressive breast cancer that was at an advanced stage by the time she sought care.
Madeline had been through so much. A single mom, 36 years old, with a 12 year old daughter, she lost her job several months before her breast cancer diagnosis and couldn’t afford the COBRA payments to maintain her insurance. To make ends meet, Madeline gave up her apartment and she and her daughter moved in with her sister in her one bedroom apartment.
With no insurance, she didn’t seek help for the lump she found in her breast until it began to pain her. She was admitted for care through the emergency department of one of New York City’s public hospitals. She had chemo to shrink the tumor prior to surgery, a mastectomy with no reconstruction, and was now receiving chemo post surgery.
She looked up, as I approached, and gave me a smile that lit up her drawn and tired-looking face. “The free meals delivery service brought me a wonderful surprise today,” she said. “You know, the one you referred me to. They are just great. Not only do they bring me all the meals I need for the week; they feed my daughter as well. The food is delicious!”
I was so relieved to hear that something was working out for her. Getting all the meals that she and her daughter needed, in a given week, not only spared her the need to fix meals, but saved her money she would have had to spend on food. Given her financial situation, this was a critical support.
I asked, “What’s got you all excited about today’s meal delivery? What was the wonderful surprise?”
“Well, she answered, “I’ve been feeling so sick; I forgot today was my birthday. When I opened the meals delivery there it was…a birthday cake! It was just the right size for me and my daughter to share. It said Happy Birthday, Madeline! Not only did they remember it was my birthday; they took the time to put my name on a beautiful little cake.”
That’s when I lost it.
Sometimes, in the midst of suffering and sadness, an act of kindness can cut through the pain and fear and give us a much-needed boost of hope and joy.
Note: The meal service referred to in this post is God’s Love We Deliver. This nonprofit organization, located in NYC, has its roots in the days of the AIDS epidemic, when many of those living with AIDS were home bound, unable to shop and feed themselves.
In recent years, God’s Love We Deliver has expanded to encompass those with other diseases, including cancer.
I cannot say enough good things about this organization that consistently provides a quality meals delivery service. Not only do they provide meals, they provide compassion. They go the distance to provide things like birthday cakes to bring a bit of joy to someone at a time when there isn’t much to be joyful about.
You can visit God’s Love We Deliver at www.godslovewedeliver.org. It is worth the visit….it is sure to brighten your day!