Fr German’s message January 7th 2018 An example of solidarity

posted Jan 3, 2018, 2:12 PM by St Sebastian Catholic Parish

Fr German’s message

An example of solidarity

 

This is a concrete example of solidarity. Thank you to Odile for giving me permission to "share" this text. I think it can inspire many to follow her example and those of Thierry, Maïa and her colleagues.

“Saturday, December 1st was a day filled with meaningful moments for my colleagues at BrandStorm, and myself. The kind that one has to share. That morning we all had to rise early in order to join 300 volunteers  in Ted Watkins Park, close to the Watts Towers (South Central Los Angeles) and participate in this wonderful event organized by Convoy of Hope, in partnership with several other organizations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation. A day during which local underprivileged families, more than 8,000 « guests of honor » could benefit from free services, shoes, food, etc.. This park, where nothing has been happening for the last 15 years since it has been taken over by gang activities and violence, was for one day, thanks to a « day of peace » proclaimed by the Gang Task Force, a place where families could come freely with their children, pray, enjoy lunch, receive shoes, toys for the children, have a family portrait taken, receive vaccines, bags of groceries, etc…

After spending the first couple of hours preparing hundreds of hot dogs with my colleagues, I was then transfered to the breast cancer awareness tent, where information, breast self exam tutoring and resources were given to a constant flow of visitors. Very soon I realized that this day was not just going to be important for our visitors but for myself as well. The first lady who came to my table shared how terrorized she was by the thought of  soon being told that she had breast cancer. Abnormal cells had been found in her breast a while ago and since then she had to be checked every three months. She had a sense of impending doom that was making her sick. We spoke for a while and it was obvious that she was very well informed and already knew a lot of what was explained in the booklets I was handing out to her. Our conversation became one of reassurance. I pointed out to her how being checked regularly was not intended to stir up her worries, but simply acting as her insurance… if anything was to happen it would be cought early and give her a much better chance. I shared with her how that had exactly been the case for me. Being a 13 year survivor does say a lot to others. When she left she took my hands and said « I am very happy I came because I am already feeling better ». A few words of reassurance can have an incredible impact on our most vulnerable moments. Needless to say that this lady was not the only one to benefit from this special meeting.

After welcoming another 30 ladies or so at my table, some with their daughters, - which was a testament to their determination to be as informed as possible and also educate their daughters on this very important topic – one of the last encounters I made that afternoon profoundly touched my heart. She looked so petite and frail, and was barely looking at me when she spoke. I soon noticed that where her breast should have been you could almost see holes. She shared with me that she had recently finished her treatments after having breast cancer. She was only 31 ! What shocked me the most was her saying that she was ashamed. Ashamed that this happened to her! A notion that, as a survivor, I couldn’t conceive of. Anger maybe, self-pity, but shame ?! I soon told her that I too was a survivor and there was no shame in that, pride for having been through it was more like it. We spoke for quite a while, she held my hand, cried, and I shared my story with her. I too had a bilateral mastectomy, I too had lost my hair because of chemo, and 13 years later I was here to listen to her and tell her that she too would be OK. It was so heart-warming to see her eyes open wider, and realize that she was letting herself see the possibility of a life after this dramatic experience. I could feel her bruised heart, but also her trust when she took off the scarf and the hat that she was hiding under to show me her short hair around her beautiful young face. Her name is Keena.  After some big hugs and pictures to remember this beautiful moment she left with a smile telling me how happy she was that we had met. I really felt that we would both remember this moment for ever.

This was truly a blessed day, filled with quality time with my colleagues, and fraternal moments with others whom I would not have met without this great event. People who have so little and endure so much, and who are so happy to share a little bit of kindness. I can’t wait to do that again !

Odile Ledoux-Tartaglia

13 year breast cancer survivor (BRCA 1 positive)

 

Have a great week.

Fr Germán January 7th 2018

Mensaje del P. Germán

Un ejemplo de solidaridad

 

Este es un ejemplo concreto de solidaridad. Gracias a Odile, por compartir la publicación de su texto. Pienso que puede inspirar a muchos para seguir su ejemplo y el de Thierry Maia y sus colegas.

“El sábado 1º de diciembre, Thierry, Maia y algunos colegas del equipo de BrandStorm vivimos momentos inolvidables que nos gustaría compartir. Esa mañana, nos levantamos muy temprano, de buen humor para convivir con cerca de 300 voluntarios reunidos en el parque “Ted Watkins Park” a un lado de Whatts Towers de Los Ángeles, para participar en el evento organizado por Convoy of Hope, además de  otras organizaciones como La Fundación para Cáncer del Ceno.

 En este lugar, se ofrecen servicios gratuitos durante todo el día, a los más pobres de la región. En ese mismo parque se habían suspendido actividades desde hacía 15 años, debido a la existencia de pandillas y violencia cotidiana.

 Afortunadamente, todo fue diferente ese día, gracias a la proclamación de “Una jornada de Paz”,  por parte de la policía local atendiendo y de las pandillas, transformando  así el parque, en una gran feria.  En esta jornada en la cual se ofrecieron alimentos gratis para consumir o llevar consigo, así como ropa, zapatos, se aplicaron diferentes tipos de vacunas, foto de familia, juegos para los niños, etc.

Después de haber empezado el día preparando hotdogs con mis compañeros, me enviaron a la carpa de sensibilización y prevención del cáncer del seno, organizada entre Convoy of Hope y National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Una vez ahí, me di cuenta de que esta jornada sería muy importante, no solamente para las personas con quienes hablaría, sino también para mí. La primera persona que atendí en mi mesa, estaba aterrorizada por la idea de que dentro de poco le anunciarían, la probabilidad de tener cáncer de seno. Hacia días, que le habían descubierto células dudosas, desde entonces debería realizarse estudios cada tres meses. Una noticia que perturba la vida a cualquiera. Hablamos bastante y cuando se retiró tomó mis manos para decirme “estoy muy contenta de haber venido ya que me siento mucho mejor.”

Unas pocas palabras de esperanza pueden tener un efecto increíble en momentos vulnerables….

Imposible decir que esa señora, fue la única que obtuvo algo de este encuentro.

Después de unas treinta personas que atendí, una de las últimas que encontré, por la tarde, me conmovió profundamente. Estaba muy delgada y difícilmente me miraba cuando hablaba. Una mujer muy bonita de solo 31 años. Rápidamente de mi cuenta, de que en el lugar de su pecho tenía como huecos. Compartió conmigo que acababa de terminar un tratamiento debido a un cáncer de seno. Lo que me impresionó, fue que me dijo que sentía vergüenza. Vergüenza a causa de lo que le había sucedido. Algo que yo no comprendí. Cólera probablemente, quizás cierta  culpabilidad, pero ¡¿vergüenza?!

Hablamos durante mucho tiempo. Ella tomo mi mano mucho tiempo y lloró. Compartí con ella mi historia. Ella pensaba que no iba a sobrevivir.  Sentí que su corazón estaba herido y también su confianza, cuando retiró el velo que cubría su cara y la gorra que llevaba para esconder su poco pelo y su hermosa cara. Ella se llama Keena. Para terminar se fue sonriendo y diciendo que estaba muy feliz de haberme encontrado. Después de unas fotos juntas y compartir un “Big hug” sentí que ese encuentro nos había marcado a las dos.

Una jornada bendecida en la cual viví momentos intensos de fraternidad, no solamente con mis compañeros, sino también con personas que probablemente, no hubiese encontrado de no ser por este evento. Gente que posee poco y que sufre en diferentes niveles, pero que es feliz al compartir un poco de simpatía y fraternidad cuando uno les da una mano.”Feliz semana.

P. Germán 7 de enero 2018

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