February 5th – Middle Tennessee Christian School, Murfreesboro. The day began by visiting my friend and teacher Vicki Kennedy in her 2nd grade classroom. I was greeted by her enthusiastic “little ducklings” who were anxiously awaiting my visit. This brought back memories of my visit to her classroom last February. It is now a year ago that I first came to Vicki’s classroom to share “When Your Teacher Has Cancer” with her students in its draft form, just prior to her absence for breast cancer surgery. I quickly discovered that last year’s ducklings had bought their copies prior to my arrival…they had them in hand for my new visit…for the signing. They beamed with pride that they are the “original ducklings” in this Little Pink Book!
Presentations began in the library with 7th-12th graders. This audience entirely filled every area the library could hold – over 600 students! Lynn Watson, Middle Tennesse Christian School’s President spoke first, introducing “When Your Teacher Has Cancer,” and explaining the reason for my visit. His invitation for me to share this work with his entire student body is a privilege that will stay with me many, many years to come.
While some might think that a book dedicated to elementary children would hold no interest for teenagers or adults – this day proved otherwise. Every jr high and high school student in that assembly was glued to my talk and the sample chapters read to them. Their comments immediately following the presentation, and throughout the day as I encountered them in hallways, touched my heart and motivated me to never limit my audiences. I LOVE this age group – always have and always will!
The next 3 presentations were given for the elementary students: 1st and 2nd graders, 5th and 6th graders and then 3rd and 4th graders. Each of these classes shared in all the chapters, and each had their unique questions and comments. With all audiences I asked the question “how many of you have known someone with cancer” and “how many of you have had someone in your family get cancer?” It takes my breath away for a moment each time I ask that, as nearly every hand goes up. I believe this question creates an awareness that cancer is not a private struggle and our determination to help to fight the fight is absolutely needed…for every individual and family affected. After my last presentation to the elementary students, a student came to me with a blank sheet of notebook paper and she asked “will you please autograph this for my friend.” I wanted to cry as my heart overflowed. She gave a hug as I told her to share her hope with others.
The staff, teachers and administrators at MTCS are amazing! At every turn I had people offering to help, offering encouragement and giving thanks for my book and my visit. “When you seek to bless others, you will be blessed” – my favorite expression. This school has blessed me in a way that I can never adequately put into words.
Channel 2 news from Nashville came in between presentations, taping a segment to be aired that afternoon. Reporter, Melissa Penry talked with both Vicki and I, gathering the history of our friendship, her cancer journey, and the story behind this book. After over an hour at the school, Melissa consolidated a beautiful 90 second segment that aired at 4:30 pm on WKRN Nashville (abc affiliate). That link and story is also available on their website at wkrn.com.
The benefit dinner for JoDee, a staff member battling cancer, began at 5pm. Parents and community members steadily came through the doors for that hour, bringing their prayers and support. Together this Cancer Awareness Day brought over 10K to JoDee and her family during this critically difficult time – helping them with medical costs to help her fight the fight for the 3rd time. JoDee fought breast cancer twice, and after a 12-year remission she must now fight esophageal cancer. Cancer is truly a monster in disguise it seems. Yet, this community is taking bad and turning it into amazing good and amazing blessing!
The basketball game marked the culmination of the day’s planned events and also benefited JoDee with ticket sales. One referree signed the back of his check from MTCS at the start of the game and said, “please give this to JoDee and her family.” The depth of caring people is astounding.
At half-time, Lynn Watson introduced me one more time to share this Little Pink Book and give a few words about the background and my visit during this Cancer Awareness Day. Again my question of “Have you known someone with cancer,” brought up just about every hand in that gymnasium. With pink enthusiam and love, I shared my heart with them. I shared our need to pray and pray and then pray some more. I shared my journey as an observer with cancer, through my extended family and through my best friend. The president followed with a list of people fighting cancer, a list of survivors (including his mother) and remembrance of those who have lost the battle. His prayer was all-encompassing and so very beautiful.
MTCS scooped up 65 books from me on this tour. I am so very grateful to be making a difference in the fight against breast cancer through books. And even more grateful to be touching lives with pink love and hope. I am so very blessed – thank God.
More photos and video coming soon!!