Each year at our Green Ribbon Gala, Lori's Hands' business partners present scholarships to two students who win our annual essay contest. This year, Sarah Slimski and Shay Lukas were those students. Earlier this week we shared with you Sarah’s essay, and today we are thrilled to share Shay's! Thank you to this year's scholarship sponsor: GRALC Global Regulatory Affairs Labeling and Compliance Services.
When I first stepped inside Doris’s home, I could feel that my presence was met with caution. She had been through so much, with her history of cancer, variety of surgeries, and a terrifying car accident, that she expected bad news and discomfort in every situation. Due to this, she was very closed off, simply grunting or nodding in response to my attempts at conversation. During my first few visits, I would help her by getting her mail, cooking, and vacuuming. During one visit, I came across an old picture of one of her sons as I was cleaning. I wanted to know his name, honestly to be let in on any piece of her life that she was willing to reveal to me. When she noticed my genuine interest, she finally began to open up, telling me about her experience raising 5 children and about her own childhood. As time went on, she continued to open up to me and became more active, walking around the house with me as I cleaned and even accompanying me on the walk to get the mail when she was feeling up to it. The stories of her childhood led to talking about deeper topics such as her fears and her cancer recovery, and it became clear to me how important my visits had become to her.
Two weeks ago, Doris sat me down after one of our visits. She took off her glasses and held both of my hands, taking a minute to gather her words. She looked directly in my eyes, and I noticed that she was crying. She proceeded to tell me that I was family to her. That I was the granddaughter she did not have, the friend that she needed, the person that came to take the loneliness away from her.
This woman has been through cancer, chronic arthritis, a major car accident, and yet the most painful, crushing thing for her is loneliness and lack of support. When she goes to the doctor’s office, she gets medical advice and medicine. When she goes to physical therapy, she is taught exercises to increase her mobility. Yet without my help through Lori’s Hands, she had been alone in her coping.
When I first started seeing Doris, negativity consumed her life and she rarely got out of bed. Now, she often calls me at 8am on Saturday mornings telling me that I “better get up and take advantage of the day!” While I can’t say that I’m too happy about the early morning calls, … I love to see her increase in positivity.
This has been a priceless experience for me because Doris has helped me understand what patients are truly going through not only physically, but also mentally as they battle with chronic illness. My experiences with Lori’s Hands and with Doris have taught me patience, compassion, and acceptance, which I am forever grateful for and intend to apply in my future career as a Physician’s Assistant.