The Snapshot

The Snapshot

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

The Snapshot

A wonderful snapshot was taken during the 1998 Pittsburgh Race for the Cure. The picture speaks of all the raw emotions felt by survivors who participated. There is sadness and joy that only we survivors understand. I was in the picture, and it has been used for publicity for the race. The funny part of the whole story is that the only thing you see of me is the back of my head. The person I was embracing was never recognized. They were able to contact me because my name was on my back.

The person who originally contacted me about the picture has made an impact on my life, and I will be forever grateful to her. She kept telling me that I had a story to tell and that others needed to hear it. My story has now been told in a TV documentary, the snapshot has appeared on the cover of a magazine, and I have done public speaking engagements. None of this would have been possible if it had not been “meant to be.” The picture didn’t reveal my face, but it gave me a voice.

For five years I tried to find the person I was embracing in the picture. Every year I went to the race searching for this woman in the crowd of thousands, hoping to recognize her. Every year that went by I started to think that perhaps she didn’t make it. This is a part of the reality we live with every day as a survivor.

I got my invitation to a luncheon held annually in Pittsburgh for survivors and went alone, feeling a little awkward. I wasn’t alone for long; I met two of the nicest ladies who invited me to sit with them.

This is where fate and “meant to be” come into the picture: They asked me to go ahead into the room where the presentation would be and save them each a seat. I had to find a row that had three empty seats. They soon joined me, and we held hands crying during the song, “We Share a Bond.” The person in front of me began to cry, and I noticed there was no one sitting on either side of her. I felt a great need to give her a hug, and I did so from behind. Without turning around, she gently patted my hand that rested on her shoulder and thanked me.

As the program was ending, the lady turned around and thanked me, saying, “You must have known I really needed that.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked, “Have you been at any of the past races? You look so familiar.”

She replied, “Maybe you saw me on the cover of the magazine they put in the race packets. I’m the one being hugged.”

I burst into tears and said, “I’ve been searching for you for five long years!”

I’ve had so many wonderful things happen to me since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and sometimes I need reminding of how bad it really was. I am a twelve-year survivor now, and the years have been an awakening.

The people I’ve met along my “detour” have led me to places I would not have otherwise gone. I believe more than ever that I am here for a reason.

Elaine Zalar

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