A Note from Barbara

Posted on by bporwit

Closeup on Wonder Woman Katy's eyes

Hi everyone –

I usually am sending out posts to celebrate how great the subjects are in this project, and how amazing the journey is working with them and getting the message of hope and encouragement out there:

I am writing this morning because I need to talk about something. This week I got some information that I didn’t want to get, but I needed to. I’m horrified at it but I’m glad that I know.

One of the women my son and I work with at a cat rescue shelter has cancer. Not breast cancer, melanoma (skin cancer) – and, oh by the way, a mass on her adrenal gland too.  I had wondered what was going on when neither my son nor I were hearing back from her for feedback on a report he wrote about one of the special events we volunteered at. (I know she’s crazy busy but – usually she will get back to you —-)

When I asked at the shelter, our shift leader said, “She’s had surgery and is recovering…. she’ll be deciding when she is able to do shifts and things again…” – very discreet.

So – now I know. He blog posts read very much like the person she is – spunky, determined, totally going to forge her own path through this journey she now has to go through. Ultimately she will make the choices about what she has the ability to choose about, and accept whatever comes of it all. I’m sure there are also a lot of emotions she may or may not end up sharing in her blog – the public face of what she is going through.

But me – I’m mad. Mad and horrified. This woman is 47 years old. This is SERIOUS. Melanoma is not something you can mess around with – not this type anyway. And we need her. Her husband needs her. Her children need her. Her cats – foster and adopted cats – need her. All the cats and people at the shelter need her. The people she helps at work (guardian ad litem social worker) need her. And one could say, she probably herself doesn’t want to be contemplating one of the potential paths of this journey. This was not a part of her plan. Not at this point in her life anyway.

My first impression of this woman was one of the first times my son and I came in to the shelter, to see if it was a place my 8th grader with Aspbergers could volunteer. Her very red hair and totally personable demeanor stood out. It was obvious she was an important person there at the shelter. She was welcoming and supportive to me and my son – back then a couple of strangers.

Over time, we understood more what her actual position was: an adoption specialist- working with people coming in to the shelter to understand their pet desires and needs, and matching them to just the perfect cat companions, giving a lot of really good cat advice along the way.

She also took time and care to spend time one-on-one with my son. She seemed to “get” that he had a condition, accepted it and appreciated him. And helped him. I could see the attention she gave him, asking him about school, relationships, developmental milestones he was going through. (Made sense to find out her “day job” is a social worker..)

At the end of last school year, she approached me to ask if my son would be interested in shifting into an “internship” type position, working with her at special events, taking photos and being a “reporter.” She would be the supervisor, working with him to guide him. We had just done the first one of these events when — we didn’t hear back from her.

And I wondered. And now I know.

I know this project is all about being hopeful, and using fun and imagination to summon inner resources and come out “on top” – at least psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, but right now I am just mad. Horrified and mad.

This XXXX is real people, and it’s happening to people I care about. Way, way too soon. There are bigger conversations to be had about why, about larger systems that may be poisoning us, and what we could or should be doing about them – but in the meantime, there are people who are stuck dealing with this stuff NOW.

This is why I am doing this.

Thinking of all of you. All of us.



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