This week I had the immense pleasure of hearing my friend Janice Hayes-Cha tell a story at The Moth StorySLAM at WXPN World Cafe Live in Philly. The Moth, for the uninitiated, is a podcast/radio program “dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.” The non-profit travels around the country hosting StorySLAMS. There is always a theme– on the night Janice told her story, the theme was “Scars”.
Janice’s story was filled with scars, both visible and hidden. Told in a Bostonian accented, epithet strewn, brutally honest, delightfully humorous manner, her story was amazing, and surprising. I’ve known Janice for a few years now. She’s fearless and determined. It suits her, and it inspires me. By listening to Janice tell her story, I learned how she earned that drive. She told the audience about her multiple bouts of cancer. She delivered a humorous look at having survived both breast cancer and colon cancer. Her story bravely shared with both friends and complete strangers the difficulties in dealing with four small kids when she could barely lift her arms, about having to make decisions on whether to get nipples tattooed on her newly reconstructed breasts and her determination to finally finish the marathon training interrupted by the colon cancer. I have never been so privy to the intricacies of dealing with cancer. I laughed at appropriate times during her story, but it was the seriousness of surviving that made an impact. She is a serious survivor.
In a five minute story Janice reminded me why I admire her so. She talked about decisions, and scars, and difficulties, and made us all laugh about it throughout. I learned how important it is to be completely available to our friends when they need us most, and I thought, yes, that’s why I love this woman. Janice didn’t win the StorySLAM. She did come in second (of 10)– to a very good story about a high school boys brawl, that started and ended with borrowed pants and mom’s belt. It was a good story. But Janice’s story trumped the winner for me by virtue of what I learned about her and about myself. In April, Janice will run in the Boston Marathon. Finally.
Janice Hayes-Cha is running under a charity ticket in the 2014 Boston Marathon. If you’d like to contribute to her favorite organization, Women’s Lunch Place, a day shelter for women experiencing homelessness or poverty in Boston, visit her fundraising page here- www.crowdrise.com