September 24, 2014

A Mom of Many Hats

We recently had a great day shared with Debbie Fink, co-author of A Mom of Many Hats, at an event in Maryland. She shares her perspective with us today.

By Debbie Fink

What makes October 13th different from any other day on the calendar?

• If you ask a member of the Navy family, the response is likely to be: “October 13th? It’s the Navy’s Birthday!”

• If you ask a member of a family with a loved one living with breast cancer, you might expect to hear: “October 13th? It’s National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.”

• If you ask Lisa Perea Hane, a mom living with breast cancer and my heroic co-author of A Mom of Many Hats, she would respond: “October 13th? “It’s my son’s 16th birthday!”

• If you ask me, it would be for all these reasons, and a few more.

I was honored to be invited by Walter Reed National Medical Center to speak at the 8th Annual Cancer Art Show. My friends at United Through Reading and the USO were able to attend. My topic was the Mom of Many Hats Book & Project. As a civilian, it was an opportune gift, wherein I merged two missions near and dear to my heart:

1) To thank our Military families and children for the daily sacrifices made on behalf of our freedom (come back to read November’s Operation Thanksgiving Eagle’s blog). http://operationthanksgivingeagle.com/Home.html

2) To help families and children, who have a loved one on a cancer journey, move from fear to strength (visit http://momofmanyhats.com/Home.html )

On October 13th, I had the chance to thank Military families while helping them cope with a cancer diagnosis. As if military life isn’t stressful enough…

What else made this October 13th so different and memorable?

Civilians joined us at Walter Reed for the event. A few of these civilians commented afterward that it was, “the first time they’d interacted with military personnel”, and these Servicemen/women/children didn’t ‘fit’ the invisible stereotype –  always strong and stoic…  A stereotype that many civilians don’t even realize they have.

The October 13th event showed Military personnel singing, dancing, playing music (the phenomenal U. S. Air Force Strolling Strings ( http://ow.ly/79vkM ) serenaded us during our book signing after the event), listening, laughing, and emoting while sharing their cancer-related stories.  October 13th at our Walter Reed event, the civilians and Military present shared common ground in their fight against cancer.

And the invisible walls came ‘a-tumblin’ down. Person by person; interaction by interaction; family by family. We’ve only just begun.

Catherine, Sara and Grace modeling hats of virtue illustrated in the book. Viking hat for power, Cowboy hat for regaining control, Sombrero for rest and relaxation

So . . . back to A Mom of Many Hats. It’s a therapeutic and powerful story, beautifully illustrated by Caroline Smith Heming, who took the project on while losing a dear friend to cancer. The book overflows with healing love; collective wisdom; thoughtful pedagogy; child psychology; and helpful virtues. It provides coping tools for the entire family facing this medical crisis.

My head thought to write a more explanatory blog about A Mom of Many Hats, or more about its heartwarming backstory. But my heart told me to share the story of October 13, 2011.

So when next October 13th rolls ‘round, I’ll be singing “Happy Birthday!” to our U.S. Navy; praying for all those with metastatic breast cancer; sending Lisa’s son a Happy Birthday text; and recalling how we helped some invisible walls between our Military and Civilian Americans– walls that invisibly divide our indivisible nation – come a’tumblin’ down. Perhaps you’ll be joining me!

 

Many thanks to Debbie and her incredible positive energy. Be sure and see her books on our booklist too! http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/booklist/