Story Time

Photo Credit: Kristi Jo Jedlicki

For the past 13 months, I have relied on the safety and convenience of online shopping to keep our household running smoothly. We have had everything from groceries to pet supplies to books to clothing delivered to our front door. So, when another package arrived earlier this week, I didn’t think much of it, until I opened it. Then, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

As I carried it inside, I tried to remember what I had ordered recently, but I was drawing a complete blank. That’s because I hadn’t ordered this particular package. Somebody else sent it. It was a sweet surprise courtesy of Hope Scarves.

Hope Scarves is an amazing non-profit organization located in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 2012, Hope Scarves has been providing hope, scarves, and stories of survival for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. They also donate a portion of the money they raise to support research for metastatic breast cancer, the type of cancer its dynamic founder, Lara MacGregor, has lived with since 2014.

Lara’s journey is humbling and awe inspiring, and the work they do is truly special. Their office is walking distance from my home, and I have friends who work there and who volunteer there. I also have friends who have received one of their beautiful scarves and stories of hope. It’s personal to me for all of these reasons, and because in 2015, I received a scarf and encouragement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My sweet friend, Katie, the Connections Director, made sure that I had a scarf and support as I began my own journey, and I knew they were with me every step of the way. So, last month, when Katie asked me to share my survivor story as part of their annual Story-A-Thon, I agreed. They have done more than enough for me, which is why I didn’t expect the surprise that showed up on my doorstep.

The lovely blue package contained a gorgeous scarf, beautiful notes and stories of hope and gratitude, and the cute tote bag pictured at the top of this page. While the swirl of pretty colors drew my eyes to the scarf first, the unassuming tote bag’s message is what left an imprint on my mind and heart.

Live a great story.

It felt as if that message had been handpicked just for me. When Katie asked me to share my story, I submitted a hastily drafted and somewhat emotionally detached response that was uncharacteristic of me. After I sent it, I felt almost embarrassed and apologetic for my story, as the familiar feelings of survivor’s guilt resurfaced.

The tinges of guilt bubbled up around me, as I felt that my story was not worthy enough to share. Because my journey has not been as long or difficult as others. Because of my treatment choices. Because I am currently cancer free. Because I survived.

The words on the tote bag were able to cut through my inner dialogue, though, in a way that I wasn’t able to do myself. My story is just that, my story. It is mine to create, to live, and to tell. Like any story, some chapters are better than others, but they all are part of the same beautiful, messy, unfolding story.

We cannot change the past or predict the future, but we can change the stories we tell ourselves about our past, present, and future. We also have the opportunity to live a great story, whatever that means to each of us, every day.

That little tote bag with the big message now is displayed prominently in my bedroom as a daily reminder to not only survive, but to thrive. Living well is said to be the best revenge, and in the face of cancer and any of life’s other challenges, the same can be said of living a great story. So, start living it!

That’s another story. . .

To learn more about Hope Scarves, please, visit:

Categories: That's Another Story

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