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Role Models Are So Important

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For the most part, this has been one of those weeks: I’ve had the bad back from Hell, taken two friends to the hospital to have cancer surgery, met with a deranged businessman and had a health scare of my own. The bright side of my week, however, has been the girlfriend who spent Friday night with me.

I first met Edith after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. One morning she introduced herself before church started and said, “I had breast cancer and a double mastectomy when I was 66 and that was 11 years ago. If I can do it, you can, too.” That was seven years ago, and Edith was right. I made it through 10 breast cancer surgeries and eight rounds of chemotherapy. I’m particularly grateful because Edith was the first woman I met who’d gone through breast cancer. She talked to me about things like tissue expanders and implants and thinning hair, but even more important, she gave me hope I would survive and live to enjoy my life. Sharing her story was a seemingly simple thing, but it may be the best gift I’ve ever received. Have you ever thought that each one of us has a unique gift, a story, that regardless what it’s about, can be priceless words of encouragement to those who come after us?

Edith has been a role model for me in so many ways. Over the last seven years, she watched her precious Jimmy slip away to Alzheimer’s, then die in her arms. At times, it’s been almost too much to bear, but she’s continued to move forward, embracing her inner Ramborella, the strong woman who still spends weeks at a time by herself at the ranch on which she was born, the woman who loves God and friends and who will do anything for either of them.

This weekend, Edith came to check on me, to see how I’m doing after losing my own precious Jimmy. One of the reasons I love her is her direct manner. No beating around the bush. She just launches into her concerns like whether I should continue to live in the middle of nowhere by myself.

“If you can do it, I can, too,” I told her, and she agreed.