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On sharing your story and why it matters

There's power in owning your story, being vulnerable and using it to touch and lift others.

I don’t remember her name, but I’m sure I will always remember her. She sat across from me in the waiting room at the MRI office, busy with her cross stitch. She seemed kind and looked about my same age so I couldn’t help but break the silence to tell her that her craft project looked amazing. “Thanks! It matches the tree skirt and Christmas stockings I made for my husband and me. This one’s for my daughter.”

The conversation continued from there. The other woman in the waiting room even joined in. I was nervous about the MRI and, to be honest, feeling discouraged and sorry for myself that I had to be there in the first place. This spontaneous chat was a welcome distraction. My new friend surprised me by so matter-of-factly asking me why was I having an MRI. I tried to be as open and honest as I could - even when genuine interest led to more and more questions.

Then the conversation turned to her, and I couldn’t have been more unprepared for what this positive, genuine, happy stranger said next. “I’m waiting for my husband. He’s getting his monthly brain MRI. He has brain cancer.” I didn’t know what to say. But there in that waiting room a conversation between three strangers became an experience of meaningful connection and understanding.

We talked about choosing to have a positive attitude, and crying when you feel sad, and the struggles that come with ongoing medical expenses and unreasonable insurance deductibles. It was almost time for me to go back for my MRI and our conversation was ending. “You said you have a daughter. How old is she?” I asked.

“Oh no, we don’t have any kids. We just hope we will someday.”

If I could find this amazing woman again, I’d thank her for sharing her story, for giving me some much needed perspective, and for showing me what it truly means to have hope amidst the storm. I’d give her a big hug and ask her where life has brought her since that day in the MRI waiting room, and I'd try to tell her what an impact her words have made on mine. I’d thank her for not being afraid to ask, and I’d thank her even more for not being afraid to share.

Maybe there’s someone who’s touched your life in the moment you needed it most. I hope you’ll see the miracle in that. And maybe you’ll find yourself with an opportunity to open your heart and let someone in by sharing a piece of your story. I hope you’ll take it. Because you never know. Your story might be what changes someone else's for the better. Your story matters and might just be what changes someone else's for the better.

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