In 2017, after I was diagnosed with cancer and traveled from Amman, Jordan to Washington D.C. for surgery and treatment, I was strolling down a random alley of shops Arlington, VA when I found a little store. You know the kind. They sell a little bit of everything. Old typewriters, exotic candles, weird little animal skeletons that you can’t quite figure out. No? You don’t do shopping like I do? 😉

Anyway, they had these set of key necklaces. They were called the giving keys. You’re supposed to wear them until you don’t need them anymore and then give them to someone who needs them more than you do.

I wore the literal crap out of my fearless key. I worked all day and then went for radiation. I blocked out family, friends…I didn’t take care of myself. All things I regret. But I wore that damn key like my life depended on it. And maybe it did. I wore it when I got back to Jordan after I was declared “in remission”, I wore it when my marriage was falling apart, when I moved back to Texas, when I quit my job without the slightest clue what I would do next.

Eventually, I healed enough that I didn’t need to wear it every day. I considered where it should go but somehow, I knew I’d need it again. And I did. In June of 2023, I was pelted with the kind of shock you’re just not ever prepared for. So I dug “fearless” out of the jewelry cabinet and strapped that bad boy on. I wore it with jeans and a t-shirt, I wore it under button up shirts when I was eeking my way through presentations…anything to give me just a little bit of extra strength to get through the day. This time, though, I did lean on family and friends.

So, the magic…really…was not the key but my people. Still, that necklace has seen some shit and it gets my respect for staying intact through the years. It’s not like the picture anymore. It’s a bit of a brownish color. The word ‘fearless’ can still be seen but it’s hanging on for dear life. Even the little hole in the middle is smoothed out from so much wear and tear.

At any rate, I wore it throughout June and most of July and then one day, I felt content…at peace…happy. So I gave it the rest it deserved.

The next day, I learned that one of the strongest people I know…has breast cancer. We’re not particularly close but for whatever reason, when we were talking about work, she told me she had just been diagnosed. The emotions I felt while walking her through her current process were overwhelming. That time when you know you have cancer but don’t know how bad or what lies ahead – terrible. I felt blessed that she trusted me enough to share that with me and a little bit like fate had put us together.

I sobbed that night. I cried for the time I squandered. How terribly I treated myself. And how ironic it was that I was giving her advice and reassurance when I never gave myself any of that. But I realized pretty quickly that this was a gift. I had an opportunity to be there for her…and to be there for myself. So I scheduled that mammogram I had needed to do for a while and I told her, next time she was in the office, that I had something for her.

The mammogram came back clear. But I needed that push to get it done.

I wrote her a letter and sealed that worn necklace in an envelope. Told her it was hers to have and keep or pass on when she didn’t need it anymore. I also told her she didn’t have to wear it but that I wanted it in her orbit because of all the good I believe it did for me.

But, of course, the next time I saw her, she was wearing it and my heart almost exploded out of my chest. I felt so much love and hope for her…and like I’d done something…a small something that will hopefully help her get through those hard times just a little easier.

Wearing a neckless doesn’t make you fearless but being loved by other people, that definitely helps you feel like you have a tribe of lions behind you. I hope she feels the tribe of support she has. And for the record, those of you in my tribe – I felt that…even when you wondered what the hell I was doing. I knew you were there….

2 thoughts on “Fearless

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  1. oh my gosh do I LOVE that! What a great idea! And I’m so glad she happily took you up on it! AND I’m so relieved you finally got your mammo and all came back clear. I hope you know I would love to be in your backing tribe of lions, and I’m ALWAYS here if you EVER need me (and obviously David, too). We love you!

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