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I have some amazing stories of connection all started in the parking lots of grocery stores, car washes, gas stations, churches, parks and school play grounds. We are losing connection with each other. Social integration is the #1 predictor of longevity This is a community dedicated to igniting JOY and creating connections with each other. In the fall of 2013, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer of the parotid gland. After two surgeries, some radiation and alternative treatments cancer came back a third time all due to stress. One morning as I was getting ready to go to work, one of the tumors, I now had two very large tumors on the outside of my face, started to bleed. I was rushed to the emergency room however the ER doctors could not get the bleeding to stop. A surgical oncologist who had just moved here from the East Coast was brought in to try and get the bleeding to stop and at this point, I had lost a lot of blood. She was unable to stop the bleeding and I could feel blood running down my back. At one point the oncologist said she was afraid I was going to bleed out. She said she needed to get me to another hospital which was fairly new, where they did an embolization surgery. This involved going through the groin and putting the matter into the blood vessels leading to the face to stop the flow of blood. She wrapped me up very tightly and I was transported to the hospital where I was given several blood transfusions and put on a ventilator to prepare me for surgery. During the time I was wrapped up tightly, my blood pressure rose to the point where I was told later that I almost had a stroke. After surgery, I woke up in ICU on a ventilator. Trust me there is nothing like waking up in ICU on a ventilator to reevaluate your life! The surgical oncologist had saved my life. However, there were still the tumors to deal with. After I got stronger, the surgical oncologist came to see me and said we would need to get me as strong as possible — but we only had a short time. She said she was going to perform a 15-hour surgery to remove the tumors; one was the size of a tangerine and the other was the size of a grapefruit. She was also going to remove my cheek and jaw bone and go into my throat, and she told me that I would probably be on a feeding tube for the rest of my life. She also said I would have 5-7 additional surgeries for reconstruction and I would have to have radiation therapy as well. She did her best to put a lot of fear into me. However, by this time my faith and spiritual connection had kicked in and I knew there was a better way. And I found a better way and went through a long, isolating, lonely year of treatments. However, five years later I am and continue to be cancer-free with only a couple of scares. Now I help individuals with cancer and I also decided to begin igniting JOY by handling random strangers a bouquet of flowers. So many people in my community looked so stress and unhappy and I wanted to change that. I have handed out hundreds of bouquets and created a beautiful connection with a random stranger. Some of these individuals have talked to me and told me I made a big difference in their day, week, or even year! I have had people tell me that they were having a horrible day, felt depressed and sad. Receiving flowers from a stranger gave them hope. Or there was a lady who I handed flowers to that went on social media to share her reaction and a friend of mine saw her post and shared it with me. She was a young widow, her husband had died in a tragic car accident and she was raising four teenagers on her own. The next day was her birthday and she wondered how I could have known that.........well I didn’t however it was a sign for her to know she was not alone. Let’s work together to change our disconnection and begin connecting and igniting JOY!


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