The people of Moose Jaw and area were wonderful hosts to Dionne and Graham Warner and Al and I as we joined them for their 12th annual Canadian Cancer Society Living and Learning fundraising luncheon on Tuesday. The event was held at the beautiful Timothy Eaton Gardens and we were treated to a tasty lunch of soup, salad, sandwiches and desserts. Dionne was the guest speaker for the luncheon and every eye was on her as she told her story of battling cancer seven times.
The people at one table were even heard to yell out, "No!" when she stated that in December 2009, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer of the liver, lungs ("And I've never smoked a day in my life,") and bone cancer in her rib, spine and pelvis. Most people in the room could not believe that she was there the day before she was due for her weekly chemo treatment. There were tears of sadness and empathy but also much laughter throughout her address.
A very touching moment for Dionne and me came while we were signing books for customers after the luncheon. An older gentleman and his wife came through the line-up and, as is our habit, I signed the book and then handed it to Dionne so she could sign next and then hand it to Graham to add his signature and hand the book back to the happy customer. When this gentleman got to the spot in front of Dionne, he said to her, "You saw me six weeks ago at chemo ... You gave me a hug." Then he placed his hand over his heart and patted his chest twice ... and slowly said to Dionne, "You made me feel special."
Dionne and I were both temporarily speechless, moved by his profound gratitude for what Dionne would consider such a simple act. I said to the gentleman, "She has a way of doing that, doesn't she? She makes everyone feel like they are the most important person she has spoken to that day." The gentleman smiled and agreed. He then grabbed Dionne's outstretched hand and thanked her again before he went on his way. He turned around one more time with another smile and nod to the woman who had given him a small boost six weeks earlier - in the form of a hug.
As he walked away, he turned to me and said, "You wrote a good book."
All I could say was, "Thank you."