Bill and I had plenty to discuss with the eager minds in front of us by sharing our story about our son's/family's journey of Childhood Cancer and beyond. We discussed the resilience, positive thinking, and an army of family and friends who got us through some very difficult days...weeks and years (the village mentality).
While preparing for the presentation (an hour and 15 minutes); we knew to "share the stage" and ping our vignettes off each other and engage with the class as much as possible. We knew they were passionate and compassionate students, and we hoped to help provide some insight how they also can do many things to help others no matter how big or small the scale. It's as easy as opening a door for someone, or giving a smile to a "stranger."
Interestingly enough, and even when Ryan was in the throws of treatment, the start of our PTG was a slow growth that silently worked through us by, first, me becoming a founding member of a Parent Advisory Board (PAB) at Georgetown University Hospital, and other working boards at Georgetown, along with donating quilts provided by my guild, Southern Comforters Quilt Guild of Bowie, Maryland), plus many meals delivered to the pediatric floors for many years. We felt these things provided some comfort and happiness for patients and their families during very trying times.
It was in the summer of 2015 that I was reading the Oprah Winfrey Magazine article "Is There an Upside to Tragedy?", on a plane out West when I nudged Bill and said emphatically, "you must read this right now!" It was written by Ginny Graves, and the lightbulb moment occurred to both of us that there was a name to what we were already doing...Post Traumatic Growth! We were ecstatic to know others "out there" were doing something after the pain and trauma of their lives.
The term PTG was coined by Richard Tedeschi, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and his colleague, Lawrence Calhoun, PhD. "Dozens of studies have shown that trauma survivors can change in profound ways. And it goes well beyond resilience, or bouncing back from adversity. With PTG, a person/family has faced difficult challenges doesn't just return to baseline, which is what happens with resilience," explains Tedeschi. "They change in fundamental, and sometimes dramatic, ways."
We were grateful beyond words to share our experience and gave examples to the students on how they can #helpothers, and perhaps take on leadership roles whenever and wherever they see fit as they continue their education and beyond. It was a wonderful afternoon spent with excellent students.
A HUGE shout of thanks to Mary Jean McCarthy, and Adelphi University for their support of our presentation on Post Traumatic Growth!
BSoleille! The bright side on National Kindness Day (November 13th).
|Italian Dinner afterwards with Bob and Mary Jean|