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Cancer Survivor Finds Courage to Stand Even Taller

A story of high heels and sisterhood from a Kirkwood mother of two.

I had a great visit with my one and only sister last week, who came down over her Spring Break vacation from teaching. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the usual sister silliness that is bound to occur.

When she visits, we go on excursions. Sometimes we visit favorite places, sometimes we try something new. Last summer we went on the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour. This time we visited the City Museum.

This visit, I had a small bone to pick with my sister.

Last month, we went on a family vacation together. We met up in sunny Florida for a long weekend in the middle of February. At one point during our vacation, she told me something somewhat surprising but also complimentary and funny.

She told me that should I die first; she wants my shoes.

I must tell you, my sister is much more conservative than me, both in dress and manner.  We are both taller than average, and always wore "flats" growing up. The flatter, the better.  Heels were attractive to me, but as I sailed inches higher than the boys in eighth grade, I knew that heels were not in my near future.

Little did I know at the time, high heels were to be in my distant future, my post-cancer future. In 2000, I was diagnosed Stage III malignant melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Wear sunscreen. Don't tan.

Post-diagnosis, (and for me personally, post-treatment) many cancer survivors will give themselves personal license to do things a bit bolder, a bit differently than before. From my understanding, many people who face life-threatening situations feel the same way. I now feel more comfortable speaking my mind, and also calmer, and more confident. I'm glad to be here, and I am glad I have a say in things. (For the time being. Wink.)

Also, given the appropriate opportunity, I now wear heels, high heels. I decided life is way too short to not wear them.

My husband is 6 feet 4 inches, by the way. Even in my four-inch heels, I still just barely see him eye-to-eye.

So when my sis came in town, I brought up our conversation in Florida, when I had told her my surprise at her request, and that I had at least four or five pairs of shoes with four-inch heels, ones that I'm sure she would never ever wear. (Not to mention my sister is two years OLDER than me, so...hello?)

To prove my point, I went to my closet and started grabbing my heels. I made three trips. I lined them up, and told her to start trying on, which she did. We practiced walking in heels and had a fabulous time.

Maybe I will give my sister my shoes. We had lots of fun trying them on and walking in them, and she was brave trying on every pair, even the tallest platforms (I have worn them only once.)

We laughed, remembering when we were young and would walk around with books on our heads, because we read that's what girls in finishing schools did in the olden days, though we did not know why.

I suggest finding a friend and trying something new and maybe silly that you never thought you would do but always secretly wanted to. Life is too short not to.

Simone Valle April 18, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Amen to that!! As goofy as this will sound to some, I feel "lucky" that I had cancer because it helped me focus on enjoying the things and people who are important to me and dismiss the rest. Here's to high heels and being "silly"!
Carola Gloyd April 18, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Yay, Simone! :-)
Meredith Bousman April 18, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I love that you wear heels...but picturing K in them is outrageously funny to me. Because it's soooo not her. The Great Shoe Try-On, though - what fun!

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