Women who are battling cancer hold a special place in my heart. I lost my dear mother-in-law, Judy, to an aggressive sarcoma. I sat beside her during treatments, keeping her company. As she rested, I’d look around at the many women getting infusions, noticing how strong they seemed in the face of such a fight. I admired them just as I regarded my mother-in-law. I was with my mother-in-law on the day of what was should have been her final chemotherapy treatment.  She rang the cancer center’s bell, happy to be through the treatments. I’m glad to have shared this joyful moment with Judy before her passing. During this time frame, I wished I could somehow help support other women who were in cancer treatment.

As the store manager at Altar’d State in Roanoke, VA, I got my wish! I was introduced to the Compassion That Compels story by Kristianne. Her compassionate words and tone were so powerful. I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved. Kristianne’s team sent Compassion Bags and instructions on what to do. My team was very excited about this opportunity, yet, on our first Compassion That Compels Mission Monday, we were nervous. Could we approach women as they were shopping to ask if they were battling cancer? What would we say to the women who had been diagnosed? We used the language of prayer, asking for the perfect person to come into the store to receive a bag.

I wished I could somehow help support other women who were in cancer treatment.

 

In walked Toni, an aunt shopping for schools clothes with her niece. Toni had a hairstyle that I’d call, “funky”.  I told her that I loved it and that she should try on our vegan leather pants to compliment her look. Toni replied, “I’ll put it on my bucket list.”

Bucket list? I was shocked to here her say that. I said, “Toni, you’re too young for a bucket list!”

Toni shook her head and said, “I’m battling cervical cancer … for the third time.”

In that moment, I wanted desperately to help this lovely woman. I realized this: I got my wish – the perfect person had come into the store! I got a Compassion Bag for her, presented it, and explained what the bag and CTC were all about. I told Toni that we all loved her and enjoyed having her in our store. Now, it was her turn to be surprised as well as moved, expressed by thanking, hugging and crying.

Do you know what Toni did? She took that colorful, flower-covered Compassion Bag to her infusion center and distributed some of the gifts to other women in treatment! By being my first bag recipient, Toni helped me to fulfill my wishes to help one perfect person and to spread the blessings to others.

What would we say to the women who had been diagnosed?

 

About an hour after I met Toni on that memorable first Mission Monday, a customer named Sherie came to shop. She wore a cap over her over her head, which appeared to be bald.  We talked about her fight with breast cancer. Sherie was about to have her second chemotherapy treatment. I blessed her with a Compassion Bag, making her smile in the midst of her pain.

Sherie and I kept in touch. Six weeks after receiving her bag, Kristianne was visiting our store and a nearby cancer center. Sherie wanted to meet Kristianne and to help! She went to the center to bless eight more women with Compassion Bags. There’s a quote from a book by Frank Herbert, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets.” My net seems to have been cast wider and wider by people like Sherie and Toni.

How far can the wish by one Altar’d State store manager go? Multiply this by all of the store managers, employees, and volunteers involved in Mission Monday, and our ability to impact people is almost limitless. This is the heart of Altar’d State. Women can come in to buy beautiful clothes and leave with so much more to feed their spirits and souls. We touch the world in many ways, especially working with Compassion That Compels, and I hope that my wish continues to be fulfilled until a cure is found.