This past weekend I attended the Maryland Jaycees Fall Convention - my first convention since I was diagnosed. I received a warm welcome from everyone and many people went out of their way to congratulate me or say hi. I received hugs from everyone and I am truly touched that so many people care about me and I can honestly say that Jaycees have become my extended family.
It's a long story, but basically I "lost a bet" many years ago and my penalty was to wear bunny ears and sing "Little Bunny Foo Foo" at a public restaurant to my Jaycee chapter members. From there the word spread in the Maryland Jaycees and I was made to sing "Bunny Foo Foo" at several state conventions. Despite the fact that I come from a long line of very good singers, I did not inherit that gene and I am terrible. I'm a good sport, though so I donned the bunny ears and sang my heart out. Now I'm known as "Foo Foo" around the state.
My friend Blair is on the state board of directors and he asked if I would escort him in to the banquet Saturday night and I agreed. He jokingly asked if I would wear bunny ears and I said I would, but he didn't believe me. Moments before we were to walk in he realized I was serious, and ran to his car to get the bunny ears. When it was our turn to be announced, I put on the bunny ears and rendered the emcee momentarily speechless. She regained her composure and announced, "I've never been so happy to welcome Bunny Foo Foo" and the entire room burst into applause and some took pictures. It was wonderful to be welcomed like that and I am so happy to be back in the Maryland Jaycees.
Earlier that day, I was one of the presenters at the Cancer Awareness Forum. Janine Layman, a former Maryland Jaycee who moved to Florida several years ago, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year too. Jen Ray's brother, who I've mentioned here, is battling colon cancer. Janine contacted Jen and I a couple of months ago to ask if we would participate in this forum and each share our story. Well we agreed and conducted the seminar this past weekend. I am humbled by the large turnout and the many, many Jaycees who came out to support us and listen to our stories. I was nervous before we started, but once I got started on my story I was confident (and talked more than my allotted 10 minutes!) The Jaycees care and I was hugged and congratulated all weekend. It was amazing and awesome to be loved and supported by so many.
John Schissler, a long-time friend, gave me a Daffodil Days teddy bear from the American Cancer Society that he'd been planning to give me for a long time and said he plans to give me one every year. I look forward to received a special bear every year - this means I plan to be around to receive it.