As we bring another Breast Cancer Awareness month to a close, I’m remembering…
Seven years ago, just a few days before my scheduled preventative bilateral mastectomy, a woman I hardly knew named Cindy Kreidel threw me a “Pink Party.” Complete with encouraging gifts, delicious snacks, heartfelt prayers, and an unforgettable, side-splitting skit involving pairs of various fruit, the gathering was exactly what I needed to face my surgery with courage.
Borne from her own fear of anticipating the same surgery, and borne out of the comfort that was poured into her by her friends at a Pink Party thrown for her, Cindy now poured into me.
Whether a woman has tested positive for a risky genetic mutation for breast cancer, like me, or is fighting the disease itself, anticipating a monumental surgery like a mastectomy calls for a group huddle. And huddle they did. Cindy and friends, around me. Prayers for surgeons, for my husband, for the resilience of my four little boys, for my recovery, reached the ears of the Father and He buoyed me up and wrapped me in love.
I recovered, underwent reconstruction, and soon wrote my devotional, The Faith to Free-Fall, for other women facing the same surgery. That was seven years ago.
And then, in July, I moved to Colorado. No one here knew my story. As I sat at lunch with a few women from my new church, the conversation turned humorous around chest sizes. I tossed out, “Yeah, well, mine are fake.”
You would have thought I had tossed a saline implant in the middle of the table, it got so quiet. One woman laughed, “You’re joking, right? Are you…joking?” Another just looked at me wide-eyed. And so, I told my story. At the end, one woman named Diana said, “I have a friend you need to meet. She lives in your neighborhood.”
A few days later, I found myself walking down my street, looking for an address. It was a modest house on the corner. I knew the woman wouldn’t be there and was asked to leave my devotional on the front porch. I set it in a container next to the front door. Then, a few days later I got a text from Diana, “She’s been reading your devotional and wants to know if you’d like to go for a walk?”
We hugged warmly and tearfully when we met. Like me, seven years earlier, my new friend was anticipating a double mastectomy. As we walked, her fear ran deep as she wondered and questioned and pictured the soon-and-coming morning when she would submit to the surgeon’s knife. Feeling extra bold, I asked, “Could your friends and I throw you a Courage Party?”
On our walk I had learned that she wasn’t big on the color pink. So I renamed it quickly. “A Courage Party.” As I described it, she bent over on the path, her hot tears hitting the dirt. I remembered that overwhelmed, incredulous feeling well from when Cindy had first described the party to me.
I contacted her friends and they rallied strong. One hosted, others made delicious snacks, all brought thoughtful gifts, and the most brave joined me in the silly fruit skit, punctuated by the same side-splitting, much-needed laughter.
And then we huddled. Gathered around her and lifted prayers to the Father as He buoyed her up and wrapped her in love.
As I sat soaking in this beautiful gathering of friends, I suddenly realized- the name of my new friend was intimately connected to my own journey. My eyes filled with tears. It was a woman named Cindy who had poured comfort and hope into me when I needed it most, and now, in God’s providence, I had the privilege of pouring the same comfort and hope into another woman. Another woman named…Cindy.
Undoubtedly, Cindy will meet another woman one day facing the same surgery. And undoubtedly, Cindy will become richer by being the pourer. For we are poured into to one day pour out.