As Store Manager of Altar’d State West County in St. Louis, I’ve been involved with Compassion That Compels and, twice, I’ve had the privilege of visiting a local cancer center with Kristianne. Last year, I met a patient, Lisa, as she was receiving treatment. I noticed Lisa sitting alone in the corner, and she became the last woman to be blessed with a Compassion Bag on that day.

Lisa had a sweet and sarcastic personality. I liked her from the start, feeling a special connection to her. We were having a great conversation when I noticed that an older gentleman had sat in a chair nearby. It was Lisa’s dad, who had returned from taking a coffee break. I introduced myself and he joined the conversation, talking of how Lisa was so brave in her fight with cancer. His next words struck me: “I’m so proud of my little girl.”

If I weren’t so sure that he was talking about Lisa, I’d have looked around for a child! Lisa was definitely a grown woman, likely middle-aged. To her father, she was his precious child as she always had been, and he was more proud of her than ever for being such a strong person.

“I’m so proud of my little girl.”

 

On this year’s visit to the same center, Kristianne had brought newly designed Compassion That Compels T-shirts for some of the nurses. She followed a feeling that she needed to pack one extra size medium shirt. Before we went into the cancer center, I told several of the Altar’d State employee-volunteers about meeting precious Lisa in the previous year. On this day, Kristianne surprised me by handing a Compassion Bag to me to give out on my own. She believed I was ready. I felt proud to be given this opportunity, but I was nervous.

As I walked into the center, I saw a lady wearing a cap over her baldhead who was sitting with an older woman. She called Kristianne and I over to her, and said, “I recognize you guys!” We realized who it was and excitedly said, “Lisa!”

 

Lisa’s cancer had returned, and she was at Stage IV this time. She talked about how she loved receiving and using her Compassion Bag last year. She truly enjoyed the bag, blanket and a T-shirt we had given her. In her funny, warm manner, Lisa talked about dealing with whatever life threw at you and taking that and being as happy as you can. At that moment, Kristianne knew why she had a feeling to pack that extra T-shirt – for Lisa! It was just the right size. Lisa loved having another item to connect her to us.

This visit, Lisa introduced us to her mom, who talked about her “baby girl” going through treatment. There was a theme in this family: the never-ending love of parents for their children. Kristianne closed our visit with the most wonderful prayer for Lisa and for her supportive family. I’ll never forget that prayer, Lisa, or her parents.

Compassion Bags … It changes them. It changes you.

 

I wasn’t looking for a job when I found Altar’d State, and I’d never heard of Compassion That Compels. For the first two years of my employment, I wasn’t very involved in our charitable works. At a meeting, I heard Kristianne speak, followed by a few of our managers who talked about their involvement with CTC. It struck a chord with me, partly because of its connection with cancer patients. My grandmother, who had been a huge, important part of my life, had died of cancer.

Kristianne and Compassion That Compels have changed my heart. Kristianne speaks life into me. She has a scripture for every situation, and she reminds me of my mom. The partnership with her organization is bigger than we are. The Compassion Bags are full of joy and hope -- you can see it in the demeanor of the women who receive them. Their faces light up. They cry. It changes them. It changes you. As I feel now, I will never NOT work with Kristianne and Compassion That Compels!