Chicken Soup for the Soul

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I was introduced to my first Chicken Soup book about 20 years ago. It was titled Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul.

The Soul book came at just the right time. I was battling Stage III ovarian cancer and I needed all the encouragement I could get. I was also getting a helping hand through my family, friends and church.

At the time, I had moved in with neighbors who were taking care of me when I could no longer take care of myself. They came to my house one day, started hauling my twin bed to their truck. They then packed some of my clothes, and insisted I go with them. They had decided that I needed constant care while I healed from cancer surgery and the chemotherapy treatments that were taking my strength and devastating my body.

I settled into their temporary rental home. Soon their next door neighbor began dropping by after she got off work from a local plant. She had a humorous way of telling about her workplace, and hometown events. She seemed to know everything about our small town happenings. Her story telling became a highlight of my day. She made me smile.

One day she handed a book to me and said, "I think you'll like this book. It will lift your spirits."

The unusual title got my attention and that night as I lay in bed, I thumbed through the book. I decided that I would read one story each night just before I fell asleep. That way, I would have something encouraging and inspirational to dwell upon, instead of the fear and depression that was gripping me.

One story was all I had the strength and concentration to handle before bedtime.

The stories, each of them just two or three pages, were inspiring, uplifting. They gave me hope for a new day.

The friend, who was cooking my meals, making my bed, and encouraging me to exercise each day, reminded me that statistics are just numbers. She encouraged me to stay the course, never give up.

At first, I could walk less than a half block, and then gradually increased my distance. Finally, I was able to walk all the way around the block.

My spirits rose, my body healed, and I was, at last, told I was cancer free. I would continue to have periodic checkups with my oncologist, but meantime I was released back to my regular doctor.

Since that time, I've read numerous Chicken Soup books. To date, there are over 100 Chicken Soup books, all directed at a specific reading group, including one for survivors.

The latest book that I've completed is Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul. I have two more unread Chicken Soup books on my coffee table. I'm looking forward to reading them this month.

I already know they will inspire me. That's what they do.

They are as good as grandma's old fashioned chicken soup.