Heroines among us

What is your idea of a hero?  Is it the firefighter who selflessly enters a burning building to rescue someone?  Is it the cop that sets aside his own safety to protect the rest of us?  Is it the man or woman who leaves behind his family to go to a foreign land and fight for America?  I think that most of these people would exhibit the qualities generally regarded as hero-like.

What are hero qualities?  I’m sure everyone has their own definition, but I found a list that I’d like to share with you.  It comes from the website of the Psychology Department of the Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona and they list the qualities that they believe make a hero.  These include:

Sacrifice, Determination, Loyalty, Courage, Dedication, Intrepidity, Valor, Selfless, Conviction, Focused, Gallantry, perseverance, Fortitude and Bravery.

I will be the first to admit that, at times, I can be a whiner about the little aches and pains that come along with doing the type of job we do.  You clean eight or ten bathrooms a day, you’re bound to have a stiff back from time to time.  And then I think about the women that we clean for as a partner of the Cleaning for a Reason  foundation and I am ashamed of myself.

All of these women are undergoing some type of treatment for cancer; maybe chemotherapy, maybe radiation, maybe reconstructive surgery.  Whatever the treatment, they endure and try to make as normal a life as possible. 

The one who really stands out, though is Denise.  I am in awe of her.  Denise has lung cancer.  She was never a smoker.  She was diagnosed in July of 2009 and her cancer has spread to her spine and liver, and recently, her brain.  She talks constantly about beating this thing and resolves not to let the cancer define her.  She has tried many different types of chemotherapy and radiation.  She would like to try a clinical trial but cannot get approval from her insurance company until she tries all the “normal” chemo treatments.  Oh, and did I mention that Denise is a wife and mother of three children?  Did I mention that one of these children is only about two years old?  Did I mention that another one is autistic and recently had back surgery for scoliosis?  If you have children, think about caring for them when they were two.  It can be exhausting.  Now think about caring for your children when you are already exhausted, or nauseated from cancer treatment.

And yet, despite going through what most of us would wilt from, every time we see Denise she is upbeat, smiling and hopeful.  Her faith is not shaken. Recently, when Mardi had to have an appendectomy, Denise asked if she could make US a meal!

Denise, and all of the women that we clean for, are our heroes.  They exhibit most, if not all, of the traits listed above.  They give us hope.  They put things in perspective.  We aspire to be as strong and courageous and determined as these women.

Who is your hero or heroine?


2 responses to “Heroines among us

  1. Thank you for posting this. Too many women suffer through the ravages of cancer in silence. That is how we were raised. I’m glad there are organizations in place to help beat back the silence and give them a shoulder to lean on. I wish more would volunteer… discover the passion. My heroines are the remarkable women [yes… and men] I’m meeting through volunteering. Each and everyone deserves kudos and a warm embrace. Volunteering, helping out, quickly becomes a philosophy that I’m accepting as a lifestyle.

  2. Pingback: One Less Heroine on Earth « Freedomclean's Blog

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