Writing this blog and planning the Crop for a Cure is a lot of fun, as I'm sure you can tell. It's also a lot of work. But fun, or work, nothing can compare with the real reason we do it all....the "moments". Some of you may know what I mean, and some of you may not. But I will do my best to explain. Putting on an event like this, you have to ask a lot of strangers for some pretty big things. I don't just mean asking a total stranger for a donation. Yes, that's part of it, but what I really mean is: we ask total strangers to become a part of our story. We ask them to stop, in the middle of some pretty busy moments, and allow themselves to be drawn into what, for some, may seem like too emotional a trip to take. At first it's awfully hard to walk up to someone and say, "Hi, I had cancer. I want to help others. Please help me." It's hard because: 1. You're interrupting someone in the middle of their day and asking them to help you. (And often you're asking them to give you something for free that they're charging everyone else for.) 2. You could be totally making your story up. 3. If you're not making your story up, you are telling them something terribly personal and asking them to take it personally, too. I can tell you that more often than not, people say "Sorry, I can't help you." But almost as often, people say, "Here. Take this." before you can even finish telling them your story. I suppose it's easier for them that way. Sometimes it's just too hard to listen. But once in a while, someone actually stops what they're doing, looks you straight in the eye, and waits patiently, often expressionless, as you tell them your story. Now, you never know how this is going to end, but from experience I can tell you if they're looking you in the eye, it's coming...one of those "moments". Hopefully over time we will get the chance to tell you about a lot of the moments like those that we have had over the last two times we've prepared for this event. Moments full of tears (ours and theirs), moments ended with hugs, moments that put a knot in your throat and leave you standing in a sea of people wishing that everyone could notice the wonderful, human miracle that just happened there. But today, I want to focus on one particular moment that Julie and I had during our trip to Chicago. I have to back track a little and tell you that before we made the trip, we did our research. We emailed people we had met last year to tell them we'd be coming, we checked out the list of the vendors that would be there, and tried to find some way we could "get" to them. Well, during one of these research efforts, Julie found out that a woman, named Melissa Frances, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. If you are not familiar with the name, Melissa Frances is a brand of home decor and scrapbooking supplies made in Canada. And it turns out, it's not just the name of the company: there really is a Melissa Frances. So, Julie found out that Melissa was diagnosed and we speculated that perhaps we could talk to her, survivor to survivor, about what we're trying to do. Well, it's not like there's a survivor handshake or anything. And there's something a little icky about approaching someone and leveraging their illness for your own benefit. Of course, we tried not to look at it that way, but let's just say that the situation was a very delicate one indeed. So, while we were in Chicago, Julie and I finally decided it was time to visit the Melissa Frances booth. Now, these booths are bustling with people who are there to do business: selling and buying products. We had no idea if Melissa Frances would even be there. Well, of course, we rounded the corner and there she was: talking to a buyer, with what was clear (to us) was a freshly sprouted crop of short chemo-comeback hair. (Cue the knot in our throats.) Julie and I perused the booth waiting for the right time. Melissa has a whole line of products related to breast cancer: papers, albums, stickers, and more. We nervously oohed and aahed over the samples. Soon, Melissa was free and we made our uncomfortable approach. Needless to say, it was one of those "moments". Soon after we had told her why we were there, we were talking with Melissa about our treatments and recovery and sharing experiences like soldiers swapping war stories. Despite her own struggles, Melissa was eager to help and absolutely did not disappoint us. She promised that even though a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her items goes to a wonderful charity, she would still have some items for us if we came back at the end of the show. We had no idea what she would give us, and I certainly do not want to give away any surprises, but she was unbelievably generous. In fact, she apologized for not having more to give! The only request that Melissa had for donating to the Crop was that we would blog about her and her cancer experience. She wanted to help other women who share her diagnosis as well as inform women about their risk. She is a brave, generous, talented woman. We are so grateful to have met her, and feel truly blessed to have shared some time with such a special lady. If you are interested in seeing the breast cancer themed products she offers as well as all of her other beautiful items, visit her website at http://www.melissafrances.com/ThankFul.asp . Once you're there, be sure to check out the gallery to see some of the beautiful creations her designers and fans have made. It will absolutely knock your socks off!
Thanks for reading. I hope you have some special "moments" of your own, too.