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Tiny Dancer

You never think it will be you. But then suddenly, it’s you.

Sorry about that. Sorry it’s you.

My cousin sent me an Insta video on this the other day. I actually thought it was a parody, like a SNL skit, and then I realized it was serious. The lady talked about the feelings that hit when the chronic illness is yours and not someone else’s.

I’ve always heard that it’s nearly breath stopping to hear the “C” word (cancer). But I can tell you, it’s also quite something to wake up to an illness you didn’t even know existed, that you can barely comprehend in your fog.

It’s also a trip to find out that your shocking story has already been made public without your knowledge, request, notice, or any input. You have a CaringBridge page, people are bringing you dinner on a Meal-Train, and you’re the recipient of a GoFundMe.

You swear that it could never be your family in one of those photos. But it was. Our GoFundMe page had a picture of us at a memorial run, where my tiny kids are wearing oversized, yellow, smiley faced shirts. Sean and I look so happy.

We were the family in the picture.

You don’t believe that you’ll ever read about your own disastrous and nearly-fatal illness on CaringBridge, that’s for others. But it wasn’t.

And a benefit for you. No way. That’s for a nice family at church, who has a sick dad. And he’s older than me.

I had a benefit too. The picture came up on my Facebook just a few days ago, and I stared at it for quite some time, along with the comment that included, “Please help Jackie Stebbins and her family defray the costs of her medical bills.”

Yip, I had those.

I first met my friend Derek in a professional setting, in 2016. I recognized his name, because he grew up in a neighboring small town, but I didn’t know him. We quickly became friends. When Derek heard the news of my illness, he was distraught. He later told someone who told me, that he felt compelled to do something for me, but he wasn’t sure what to do.

So he took to his skills, and did something extraordinary for me. Derek is a welder by trade, and a very skilled one at that. He’s the kind of guy who takes one of his days off to create and weld a unique grandfather clock, and then texts me a picture of it sitting in his basement, and I want it.

Derek welded a God Bless America bench for me. For my family. And then he sold tickets, with the help of a mutual friend he has with Sean, Alicia. All the tickets were purchased, and the lucky winner of the drawing on 9-11-18, was my sixth-grade teacher’s wife. A favorite old teacher. She cried when my dad called her to deliver the news. I’m sure I cried that day too, because I remember feeling completely overcome with everything.

Even though I was initially startled at the illness-induced publicity of my story, I was always incredibly thankful for the generosity that spread far and wide because of it. Derek’s friendship will never be forgotten. Nor will the kindness of others, when they purchased a raffle ticket or donated to a sick lady, with a nice husband, and two little kids in yellow shirts.

When I say my prayers, I’m always grateful for the generosity of others that boosted me through recovery. And I pray that with God’s grace, I’m able to pay every cent of it back and forward.

Always be kind. Stay thankful and stay humble. You never know when you could be the person in the picture or the benefit’s recipient. And never doubt how even your simple generosity can change lives. Thank you for changing my life.

In friendship,


"Blue jean baby

LA lady

Seamstress for the band


Pirate Smile

"Looking on

She sings the songs

The words she knows

The tune she hums

"Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer

Count the headlights on the highway

Lay me down in sheets of linen

You had a busy day today" ~ Tiny Dancer by Elton John

*I chose this song in memory of my college roomie, Mamie, who when she was little thought the lyrics were, “Hold me up I’m tired of dancing.” Thanks for holding me up everyone – there for a while, I was way too tired to dance.


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