I’m thrilled to introduce a Cancer Warrior, friend and active member of WhereWeGoNow: Barbara Bair. Barbara is a breast cancer survivor I met through the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. When she told me her story about becoming an Operation Bling Angel, I knew I had to share it with you.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Operation Bling, it’s an organization founded by Chris Ferdinand of Ferdinand Jewelers in New Providence, NJ. Chris and her husband, Bill, founded Operation Bling as the result of a visit they made to a friend in the hospital battling ovarian cancer. The friend, who was also a client, complained that she missed her “bling” while in the hospital.
The next day, Chris brought her friend a gift: a sterling silver cubic zirconium ring. Her friend was so touched, she cried. From that pure act of kindness came the inspiration for Operation Bling Foundation, whose mission is to “give sparkling jewels to cancer patients during their hospital stay, bringing them cheer and pleasure.”
I had my own Operation Bling moment at Overlook Hospital and my ring became a true symbol of all of the gifts of support I received from so many along my cancer journey.
Here is Barbara’s story, in her own words:
When I was at Overlook Hospital, with a 103 degree fever, an infection, feeling scared, depressed and most unattractive with my bald head, no eyebrows and no eyelashes, a “Bling Angel” stopped in and really changed my mood for the better.
I had been pondering about returning to work or retiring, a decision I had a terrible time making. What would I do after retiring that could be as rewarding as teaching? After she presented me with a lovely, sparkling pin, she stayed and chatted and listened. It was nice to know that somebody cared, and I snapped out of my depression. That day I vowed that, if and when I recovered, I would like to be a “Bling Angel” and try to bring some joy to others. Helping others with cancer was something I could do after retirement that seemed really worthwhile and a way of giving back after all the kindnesses I had received.
That wish has come true. I am a survivor and am presently taking bling gifts to cancer patients at Overlook. One woman chose a silver ring with a zirconium. She was thrilled because she had lost the diamond from her engagement ring, which she sorely missed, and this one was an exact duplicate. Another woman told me that she had been a singer and member of a choir, but felt too sick to sing while having chemo. When I asked her about the songs she used to sing, she told me that “Ave Maria” was her favorite and then burst into song and sang it loudly and beautifully. All the other patients and nurses in the chemo room heard her and applauded very enthusiastically. She beamed with a broad smile and offered to give a concert to the cancer patients. I felt so happy to see her looking so pleased.
The day of Barbara’s “Bling Angel” visit, she realized that lending a helping hand to others in the struggle would bring joy and worth into her life beyond cancer. She would give support and reap healing for herself. Isn’t that what giving back is at its finest and most rewarding? Thank you Barbara for giving back to others as an Operation Bling Angel!
Like Barbara, I had a defining moment when I realized giving back by supporting others helps me heal too.” Have you had a moment like that? I’d love to hear about it.
Survival > Existence,
Image courtesy of seeit_snapit