Great story with a dose of perspective and inspiration from a lady at a show in Canada last week: After a show where I mentioned my history with cancer a friendly lady in her 30’s came up and said “I don’t know why but I have to share a story with you.” I know how helpful this can be for some people–and hey she had just listened to me tell jokes for an hour, so of course I said I’d love to hear it.
She took my breath away by starting the story by saying, “In the last year I’ve lost both my husband and my teenage son to cancer.” I was ﬂoored and told her how sorry I was, and that I can‘t imagine what that must be like. I was surprised she could still laugh at a comedy show. Or anything for that matter.
I told her that’s the hidden victims of cancer: people who have helped those stricken with the disease and then are left behind to continue dealing with we pain and memories of the sickness. Family and friends are the continuing survivors. That’s when she said that‘s exactly what her story was about.
This woman has another son who is 10yrs old. He and his mom are now left alone in the wake of the father and brother passing. I was even more heartbroken. The story kept getting worse, and my eyes were watering up with the sadness. Little did I know that a moment later I‘d be tearing up with joy and inspiration.
The woman smiled and said that her 10yr old asked her it they could start playing the lottery. She asked why, and he said he wanted to win and give all the money to cancer research. She said they started playing right away! I smiled big and said he‘s obviously a great kid. And that I hope he wins. But the story went on. The mom had to sell the house they lived in because they were obviously with much less income. They had to start making it on a single mother‘s salary. She was worried about selling the house in a tough market and also what effect it would have on her son to move out of the house and neighborhood he had grown up. Especially after what will probably be the worst year of his life.
The mom said she was so excited to ﬁnd out that the house had been sold and she shared the great news with her son. Her son then asked if they could give all the money from selling the house to cancer research. She said she laughed and started crying at the same time. I was now getting very choked up at the story of this incredible kid.
The mom explained to her son that they needed the money from selling the house to find a new place to live. He seemed to understand a little bit. Then he asked if they needed ALL the money to find a new place to live. Now I was crying as she continued the story, and so was she.
She told her son she’d see what they could do. In the end they gave $10,000 to cancer research. $10k! This was a small town I was in and I could tell from talking to the lady that they were of modest means. That’s a huge amount of money in ANY case, and I’m sure even more to these two remaining survivors.
The mom and I hugged and cried a little bit and I told her her husband must have been an incredible man to have a son like that. They were obviously great parents. Before she left I told her I hope that I get to meet her son someday. Truthfully I hope we all get to meet him, or someone like him.
But since hearing that story I‘ve walked a little lighter and smiled a little more just knowing there are people out there—10yr old kids out there–like that. It’s easy to forget but we live in a great world.