Just four months after my diagnosis of stage four ovarian cancer I was approved for major surgery. In the weeks that followed I found it hard to regain my usual positive approach to life and so, in a bid to cheer me up, my wee hero (and nephew) Jack organized a charity coffee morning with the help of his mum (my sister) and some of her friends.
When Jack started to organise this event he wanted half of the money raised to go to ovarian cancer research and half to go to my hubby, Ewan, and I so that we could treat ourselves to something nice to cheer me up during my recovery.
Whilst this was the loveliest offer ever it made me uncomfortable. Just because I have cancer doesn’t mean I am any less fortunate than anyone else. I didn’t want to profit from my diagnosis. So, instead, I found myself thinking about what we could do with the money that would benefit others.
As I mulled this over, I was reading an inspiring book gifted to me by a friend entitled “The Power of Kindness” and it gave me an idea. What if I used the money to do random acts of kindness for complete strangers? Not only would this fill me with happiness because I would get to surprise people and see them smile but it would also remind people that there is good in the world and that, no matter what, there is always something to be grateful for.
And so began my ‘random act of kindness journey’…
I bought some teal envelopes and had some business cards made with the symptoms of ovarian cancer printed on them – I figured why not also spread awareness of this cancer whilst also spreading love and kindness. Then, into each envelope I placed £10 or £20 and one of the ‘awareness’ cards.
The next step was to start handing them out. I remember so clearly my first ROAK delivery. I was sitting having lunch with my hubby. It was the first time we had properly ventured out of the house following my surgery and I was busy people watching and taking in everything that everyday life has to offer. I started to notice that everyone around us was busy on their phones and not really enjoying the moment. That is, all except two ladies who were sat on a table near us. These ladies were laughing and joking and their positive energy filled the room. I knew then that I wanted to give them my first envelope. So, on our way out I approached their table and placed it between them. I was so nervous but as soon as I was out on the street I squealed with delight. It had been such a happy rush! The best £20 I’d ever spent!
I didn’t expect anything to come of it but the two ladies posted their experience on social media and overnight it was shared over 500 times. The story was picked up by local press and before long I was chatting away with these wonderful souls. It didn’t end there though. As a completely unexpected thank you these amazing women then did a bungee jump for Macmillan in my name, raising over £4000. Inspiring to say the least!
Since then the ripples of kindness have continued to grow. Every time I had out an envelope I am amazed at the wonderful things that happen as a result. I have made new friends, spoken at events, shared emotional stories with complete strangers, received generous gifts of thanks from local businesses, been on radio shows talking about my journey and had many more people raise money for charities in my name – leading to me be awarded Scotland’s Volunteer fundraiser of the Year last month.
If that wasn’t enough, strangers touched by my story have also started handing out their own random act of kindness envelopes in my name across the UK. Everyone always reports back how wonderful it makes them feel, agreeing with me that joy is found in giving and connecting with others.
Incredibly, people have also been making donations to my RAOK pot and so the original £500 continues to grow and my pile of envelopes never seems to shrink! So, in a bid to share lots of festive cheer, and to finally work my way through my growing pile of envelopes, I have pledged to hand out an envelope everyday from 1st-25th December.
People ask why I do this and the answer is simple. I refuse to let my life become depressing just because I have a late stage cancer diagnosis when instead I could be spending my time making other people happy. In times of great global uncertainty isn’t that the most important thing we can do for society? To be kind to each other.
Love and light, Fi xx