Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pay it Forward

In the span of just a couple of days, we've heard from several of the scholarship recipients from NCCF (and yes, we are working on the "Thank You" letter for 2008). We even got a picture of one of them proudly holding his check. And last night, Dan and I talked to a two-time awardee, and hope to meet him in a few weeks when he travels to DC. We've made an unlikely connection to people we never would have met if not for cancer- a PHD candidate in CA, a young man with a heartbreaking childhood who recently turned the corner mentally and is excited about his modern dance classes, a young man who wants nothing more than work on airplane engines.

I admit- I had gotten to the point that I didn't think that the awards would make much of a difference to these people considering the amount of money they owed in medical bills and tuition expenses. I was wrong on so many levels. It's not so much the money as it is the fact that some of these people are chosen to receive something based on their personal stories. Many of these young adults aren't A students or homecoming kings. They may have been the people that were passed over in school. But to us, they are A players in the game of life. And although the circumstances under which we've connected to them are awful, they become a part of our extended team and make us want to be better people.

So after all the joy of hearing from the scholarship winners, I got a totally random email today from someone I've never met. It was just a reminder to me to keep moving forward through the tough days. And how lucky I am that people reach out to me... because the common thread in this journey tying us total strangers together is none of us wants to go it alone.

"My 31 year old brother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer on Dec. 30th. Much like your story, it came as a total and utter shock. My first internet search on the subject was a nightmare. My husband, who is a Pharm D student, warned me not to look at the statistics and sad stories; he said to stay positive and search for success stories. Given my brother's age and fitness level, much like Dan, he did not fit in with the typical lung cancer patient profile so I started looking for younger people with this disease that were already headed down the path we were about to take. Dan was the first person I found. I have since found and connected with some other lung cancer survivors and/or their family members. It has been so wonderful to finally feel like we are not alone."


Obsessedwithlife said...

Scholarships have made a HUGE difference for me. I am so grateful!

hughesd2000 said...

Here is just one story about all the people you have helped and I know that there are so many out there who you will probably never know. You both have made such an impact on the lives of so many including my own. What an incredible gift it is to be able to provide comfort to someone who feels they are alone. You guys are the best. I am very proud to know you both.

Anonymous said...

Wow--to make a connection to someone out there who is feeling so alone, is scared, and struggling to find answers and in need of help--and here you are, Dan and Meg, in your different roles, available to someone, serving as a resource to such an individual and maybe his/her partner or family. It is a beautiful and inspiring story that keeps unfolding--all so moving. cousin Paula

Lisa Auslander said...

NCCS misses you!

Anonymous said...

I miss u 2 Dan!!! I'm doing ASCO again - I need all the "kids" to help!!!! :) Hugs,