by EllenK on October 28, 2013

By Ellen Koronet

A series of events led me to this moment: Driving my car to Savannah, GA from Maryland with a fantastic travelling companion, our missions intersecting. Mine is to find a replacement car for my daughter, after the car we inherited from my mother was totaled in an accident. My companion for the trip down to Savannah is Elizabeth Alraune, who is facing cancer progression with a dubious prognosis. Her mission is to travel across the US sharing information about the silent insidious form of cancer that blazoned its way past numerous doctors and medical tests to take away her livelihood and threaten to cut her life short. At this time, she has been told there is no cure, only more chemo to slow the progression or a risky procedure.

So much about this trip and the convergence of these two missions boggles my mind: On an uncanny level, Elizabeth reminds me over and over again of the powerful conversation I engaged in back in 2004 with my cousin Sylvia Vizcaya, Sylvia was a cancer warrior who died at age 47 – I have clearly felt since then that her message and purpose are ongoing: that I must take notice of clues so I can continue on the noble path she forged. Elizabeth is also passionate about connecting with survivors and teaching coworkers, friends, and the public about how to interact with people who are fighting such a lonely, messy battle. This is perhaps why I felt especially compelled to invite Elizabeth with me to Savannah. And then, I wouldn’t have been going to Savannah for the third time in 30 days if it weren’t for the accident I was in with my daughter back in September. And then, Elizabeth was planning to go North when her contact there became unavailable and when I invited her to join me in the opposite direction…

Every decision we made in the first two days seemed to lead to another convergence. The first one happened over dinner on the way to our first hotel reservation. We considered Subway or other usual pit stops, but decided instead to aim for Petersburg, VA, where I had enjoyed a meal once before. Once in Petersburg, I turned left when I was about to turn right, apparently passing seven restaurants and gently rejecting two of them right before we reached the last one on our path.

That was the eclectic French Bistro at Market and Grove. We were trying to avoid seafood, so I don’t even know why we chose to stay after we glanced at the menu:  many of the entrees featured seafood. But stay, we did. We settled into our chairs, taking in the fanciful furniture, décor, and original artwork, and enjoying the craziness and the beauty of it all. When Elizabeth received an emotional call, our waitress, Destinee, held back on approaching us. (Her name itself seemed to be a sign that we were where we were meant to be). When she came back, Elizabeth explained and the connections started to fly. It turns out, we landed at the only restaurant in town that is run by a young man who is currently in treatment for recurrent cancer, fighting against the odds himself.

What followed was both delightful and devastating – story after story about the lessons these courageous people are living and the amazing Good that emanates from their struggles. Russ Johnson has turned up his own passionate creative force through his restaurant. He has firmly stood up to politicians and well-meaning family and friends to move his chosen causes forward, championing and supporting countless others. He has nurtured and supported many, and he graciously waived our fee. In turn, we gifted Russ and Destinee with my new inspiration card deck and creativity booklet, and the powerful music of Sherri Robbins (See and The whole exchange reached far beyond the material.

Over the ensuing days, I have witnessed the force that is blasting through Elizabeth Alraune to reach anyone in her path: As of this writing, she is on her way to Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the past eleven days, she has travelled between 200 and 400 miles most days, passing out her informational cards clearly describing the typically unrecognized symptoms of ovarian cancer and the accurate tests most MDs do not know to order. I have observed as she engages women and men in delightful conversation and then offers the cards as a gift. I have read her words about how she found herself sharing this information with young women who were experiencing some of these symptoms or knew women who were. I have stood by as she learned of connections with total strangers – sometimes they had comforting information for her, sometimes she for them.

And most importantly, I have been inspired by her tenacity in digging in to each experience, each moment as it presents itself. She is sight-seeing, observing, reaching out, exploring, turning corners for no reason other than a slight inner “nudge.” She is targeting shelter that not only provides a bed to sleep in but soul nourishment, which then in turn makes her even more available to the employees, tourists, and residents she encounters along the way. She is appreciating the beauty in every intricate particle, every sunrise or cloudy formation, every opportunity to share her message.

When my children were little, I remember reading about what Dr. Spock or one of his protégées called “touchpoints.” In my mind, touchpoints are those moments in our lives where something converges to reach deep within and make an indelible connection, a kind of welding of a quality or motivation that carries us forward.  These can be crippling or they can be liberating. While the context for this concept was early childhood, I firmly believe it is never too late: touchpoints are ever unfolding, providing opportunities for us to truly see and reach one another.  Elizabeth is doing just that.

You can support Elizabeth Alraune in her journey to Seattle and then back to the East Coast where she will most likely undergo high-risk surgery in an effort to turn her prognosis back around: She needs our support. Please like her Facebook page (Relating to Cancer), share her story, and donate if you can!

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