Years ago, when I became president of a small medical device manufacturing company my dad gave me a "Pinstripe Power" Barbie doll (dolls are a traditional gift from my dad). Pinstripe Power Barbie wears a dark pinstriped pant suit and comes with a newspaper, briefcase, and stuff. I keep it in my office next to my copy of Real Women Don't Pump Gas, and a framed picture of my son who, as a baby, modeled for a print advertisement for one of the company's products.
I was "Book Signing Barbie" in Utah for a couple of days this week, complete with a gray suit pinstriped in lavender to match my book, with an alternate skirt/lavender blouse ensemble. My primary accessory was a matching purple pen.
Earlier in the week I was "Livestrong Barbie", sailing through my neuro tests and getting a strong dose of chemotherapy. My outfit was comprised of my "extra credit" mules (because I really had to be good in order to walk straight lines on my toes and heels while wearing them) and an easily rolled-up shirt sleeve to accommodate the IV. Later I was "Gorilla Grin Barbie" at the school meeting, and really wished I had a good dental appliance as an accessory.
Book Signing Barbie was a fun role to play. I had the pleasure of meeting family, friends, and several people who only knew me online; I had a chance to give hugs and thanks to my favorite author and mentor, and I had the thrill of watching the BYU Bookstore hang a huge sign with my name on it right over my head as I sat with several other authors at a huge event during their women's conference.
I also had some gaggle therapy while I was there. Two of the gaggle arranged to chauffer me around to signing events, and we had a great evening at a sentimental favorite restaurant in Provo. We pulled in the other two by phone, and every single moment was a joyous opportunity to celebrate friendships that have lasted since our teenage years. Time and distance and circumstances have not faded these friendships at all. It takes a really great friend to drive from Pleasant Grove to Salt Lake City in the rain (picking up lunch along the way), in order to take me from one signing to the next, and to sit with me and help with logistics throughout a very long signing event, then take me to a third event before racing home in time for her son's soccer game. It takes a really great friend to fly in from California and rent a car in order to drive and assist me through four signing events on Saturday, and then race me back to the airport in time to catch my flight home. When we pulled up to the last store in an awful windstorm, she even offered to shield me from any flying objects. Even the gaggle sisters who couldn't be there because of family obligations were concerned about making sure I was covered. These friends are amazing.
Despite feeling the after-effects of this week's chemo infusion, I was able to navigate the signing events with a happy face and a constant feeling of awe that I was doing things that were not expected for a glioblastoma multiforme patient in the sixteenth month following diagnosis. But as my brother Jim said a long time ago, there is no clinical history of glioblastoma multiforme in someone with my DNA, my lifestyle, my medical history, and my purpose in life. Who knows what I will be capable of doing, and for how long? Who knows that about anyone, even if they are cancer-free?
While I was at the BYU Women's Conference on Friday I heard many inspiring things, but one in particular came from Ardeth Kapp (my favorite author). She suggested that instead of just wondering "why me?" in our lives, we should ponder "why me...why now...why here?" The reason being that we are all here...now...for an important purpose. It is exciting to ponder the experiences and circumstances that we have in our lives, so that we can figure out how best to magnify them and put them to good use. I am certain that my purpose isn't limited to having a Book Signing Barbie moment. That was just a fun opportunity to savor the many blessings that surround adversity, making it easier to bear. And it was a reminder that I have been given a life (and a good one at that), and it is my responsibility and opportunity to make something good of it.