WRITTEN BY SUSAN ZANNER, SURVIVOR

I am the queen of (latex-free) pink bracelets. Even on the dressiest occasions, I find it difficult to remove mine and am always trying to figure out a way to accessorize or make this circle of pink blend in. It’s rather amazing to me that it did not make an appearance with my off-the-rack and off-the-shoulder Mother-of-the-Bride gown.

When Stefanie Spielman died, I began wearing the pink bracelets created in her memory. I kept two and wore two. I called them “Stefanie’s” bracelets, as if they had both graced her beautiful wrists. One was clearly a sign of hope and strength for me; one was clearly “hers.”

On a beautiful bike ride to Pickerington Ponds, overcome by the scenery and the warm sunshine on my face, I stopped and said a prayer. And I added, “Look, Stefanie. What a perfect day for a ride!” When the just-right country song came on the radio as I was driving home from the grocery under a red-streaked sky, I said, “Look at that. Aren’t we lucky?”

I know that Stefanie Spielman is not my guardian angel. I know I am surrounded by them, but there was something about sharing the random moments of loveliness with my pink plastic bangle buddies that often helped me remember her spirit, her courage, and, most importantly, her family, her doctors and nurses, and her friends — folks who might need a random prayer from a stranger. And I didn’t feel alone. I felt very present in those moments, something that does not come easily to me.

So it saddened me when one of those bracelets apparently disappeared to the bottom of a lake and, months later, after much wear and tear, the other bracelet simply snapped in two. I could not drive fast enough to Hope’s Boutique at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center to replace it. Since the Stefanie Spielman bracelet was out of stock, I chose another that reads, “No One Fights Alone!”

I liked it! I had learned to fl y fi sh with another survivor and had taken on the title of “Fruit Fairy” with still another. Whenever I saw my fellow survivors struggle, I constantly sought ways to be encouraging and supportive—sometimes being timely and getting the words right, and sometimes falling short. I tried my best to live up to the words of support and purpose that Stefanie had shared with me in person: “Don’t worry. That’s why I’m here.”

So, I am here — and now I know more than ever that no one fights alone. God walks with me every step of the way; there is no “alone” or “lonely,” even though I may need time to be alone with myself. But whatever in your life brings you joy, sadness, anxiety or fear, please know that I thank you for continuing to fight with me, just as I am here with you.

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