Cancer is something that no one can ever plan for. It sneaks up when we least expect it. Too often, it is during a time when everything is going right and we feel that we have something to live for.
But cancer doesn’t have to be the end of happiness and joy. These things can be found in the little things that life has to offer.
Sometimes, it’s a complete stranger that makes our day much easier. Maybe, it’s something they said or did that makes you realize that life can be wonderful. Despite the obstacles we face, there’s always hope.
Amy Pettenato recently received life-altering news when she was told that she had cancer. Diagnosed with stage one cancer in May, she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
During recovery at home, she lost function of her kidneys. She began undergoing dialysis at the same time as chemotherapy.
Pettenato was fighting a fierce battle.
As she fought, her hair began to fall out in clumps at a time. She knew that she had to cut her hair but it was the last thing she wanted to do.
“Throughout my whole journey, I’d stayed positive, but that made me depressed,” she said.
She was also still working fulltime at Bethpage Federal Credit Union. As you can imagine, she was looking forward to a day of relaxation with her daughter and husband for a Sunday brunch at the Metropolis Diner in Medford.
But she was hesitant and self-conscious. It would be the first time that she went out in public after shaving her head just the Thursday prior.
As she ate, a woman with her family sat at a nearby table. She was with her husband and three girls. One of the little girls kept looking at Pettenato, which only made her more self-aware.
She shared her experience on Facebook.
In her post, she wrote:
“At times I noticed one of the daughters looking at me and then noticed the mom looking and smiling at me. As you can c I have my cancer hat on.”
Pettenato admitted that she had an emotional response to the constant looks.
“I got sad, and teared up; I went into self-conscious mode about my hair. It was the first time I’d been out since I’d shaved my head.”
But one moment changed the outlook of those stares entirely.
“Prior to them leaving the mom gets up and sits next to us and begins talking to me about her survivorship. 13-year breast cancer survivor.”
The woman came over to offer hope and words of encouragement to Pettenato. She knew all too well the treacherous battle that she was facing.
The woman and her family left shortly after.
When Pettenato and her family asked for the check, the waitress informed them that it had already been taken care of. She and her family didn’t understand how that could be. The waitress told them that the family next to them took care of the check.
Pettenato was overwhelmed with emotion.
“The same woman who took five minutes out of her time to sit and comfort me and share her experience. With that I began to cry!”
In her post, she asked for help in finding the woman who went out of her way to comfort and encourage her.
With the dedication of social media, the woman was found and identified as Kerry Holmes-Vallario. Now, the two are Facebook friends and share messages of hope and support with each other.
Holmes-Vallario told Patch:
“When I saw her I knew exactly what she was feeling—I remember the day my husband shaved my head; it was the hardest day of my life. When I saw her sitting there I just wanted her to know that she isn’t alone in her fight and that ‘we’ as warriors are all here for each other.”
The two are what Holmes-Vallario calls “pink sisters.”
What an amazing story!
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