Perk # 46: Receiving Special Gifts

Since today is Christmas Eve, I would like to take the opportunity to thank each and every person who has sent cards, gifts, well wishes, and prayers to me over the past nine months.  I would also like to thank those who gave the gift of time, to visit, to bring food, and to sit with me during chemo and other appointments.   I am not sure if cyber-space is big enough to hold all of the names or to express my gratitude.  Every gift, big and small, is special to me.  Some gifts however, in addition to being a thoughtful gesture, also have an interesting story behind them, and I would like to share some of these stories with you.

Butterflies and Angels:

Long before I got cancer, I felt connected to the angels.  (I can get away with saying without sounding too crazy because I have cancer).   In addition to feeling the presence of angels, I get signs, in particular, white feathers and blue butterflies.  Since my diagnosis, the signs have become so plentiful that there is just no way they can be dismissed as mere coincidence.

While I have undergone many painful and uncomfortable procedures over the past several months, nothing can compare to the mental anguish of “waiting for test results”.   That was the time when I most needed the comfort of my angels, and during that time, they took many opportunities to make their presence known, as in the story below.

The likelihood of seeing a blue butterfly in Newfoundland ranks at about the same as seeing a Zebra come out of the woods.  Yet, during my “waiting” phase, I saw one in my garden, (NO! Not a zebra, a blue butterfly!)  It was a beautiful day in May when I caught sight of this “neon blue” small butterfly fluttering among my tulips and daffodils.  I was mesmerized by how it not only fluttered around my flowers, but also seemed to dance around my body.  I ran into the house to get Ronnie, my babysitter, to witness this small miracle.  As she and I talked quietly, the butterfly continued to dance around me for several minutes.  It then landed on my left breast, the one with cancer, before flying off towards the water.

The very next day, Ronnie was at my house when a package arrived in the mail.  It was a gift from Nancy, a teacher I had worked with.  When I opened the box, both myself and Ronnie were amazed to see a pendant of a blue butterfly, which was almost an exact replica in size and color as the one we had seen in my garden the day before.  I immediately sent Nancy an email message to thank her for her gift and to ask, “How did you know the significance of blue butterflies to me?”  She responded, “I did not know that they are meaningful to you.  I was in a store in Florida when I saw this and it reminded me of you.  I left the store with my husband, but felt so compelled that I had to go back to buy it.”   I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence, rather these signs are God’s way of letting us know that everything is happening according to his plan.

Pictured above is a statue of an angel holding a butterfly which Ronnie gave me as a Christmas gift.  Pictured as well are the butterfly pendant given to me by Nancy, and a gold locket with two angels given to me by my sister Juana, herself an angel, who nursed me though many hard days.



This beautiful portrait, hand painted by artist Angela Hardy,  was given to me by a man I’ve never actually met.  The Reverend Canon Kevin George is a priest who lives in Ontario.   He saw my interview on the NTV news, and since then has been so kind to me with prayers, remembering me in his service, paying tribute to me in his own blog, and now this special gift.  Along with the gift was a thoughtful message…”You are an inspiration to so many.  In the midst of your pain and suffering you are offering acts of love and sharing your story with others and encouraging a positive outlook.  May God’s light continue to shine brightly though you, and through your witness.”    Thank you Reverend, I do not feel worthy of your kind words (ask anyone who knows me, I am not THAT nice in real life!).


Tammy  was a woman who grew up just a few houses away from where I grew up.   Given that she was a few years older than me, I didn’t really know her as a child, but I do remember hearing about her diagnosis of breast cancer many years ago.  Sadly, Tammy lost her battle with this disease and left behind two young sons.   For some strange reason, yesterday I kept thinking about Tammy, and feeling a peaceful presence.   Later in the day, mom arrived with a card and a gift from Tammy’s sister-in-law, Daisy, another woman from home, with whom my only connection with has been through Facebook.   In her handwritten note, Daisy compared me to Tammy, which from what I know about this woman, is an honour in itself.  She gifted me with this tiny bumblebee, and an even greater gift in this beautiful message which I am sure we all can relate to during difficult times: “This little box is holding a replica of a bumblebee.  This winged creature has a body too heavy for its wings.  It is a symbol of strength and endurance, as it should never be able to fly-yet it does!  Any day you are not feeling well, look at it and let its symbolism give you the strength and endurance to persevere in the face of all odds.”

Once again, thank you to all for your generosity and kindness.   Merry Christmas, and in the words of Tiny Tim: God Bless Us Everyone!

Tip: We are all given our crosses to bear in life.  When we open our eyes to heavenly signs and messages, these crosses become much easier to bear.


7 thoughts on “Perk # 46: Receiving Special Gifts

  1. Truly an inspiration Florence!!! This site is amazing and I just love your humour!!! Please God you will be blessed and enjoy many more years on this earth with your family and friends!!!
    God Bless you and have the merriest of Christmases(not sure of the I’m sure your butterfly will appear again and again!!! All the best!!!

  2. Dear Florence:
    I am a very close friend of your cousin Connie Strang’s. I am a fellow Newfoundlander and Connie and I have been close friends since college days in Nova Scotia (we were in the same class, went into the same profession). I am currently awaiting the results of a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound in my right breast, an abnormality that showed up on routine screening in early December. Connie passed on your information to me, as you are the same age as I, and our circumstances just seemed so similar – this hit me out of the blue, I have no family history, and honestly, I do not have a good feeling about it. I saw the diagnostic films they did the other day, and the mass to me does not appear like a cyst. Time will tell, but in the meantime I have been following you,and today’s post really hit home. The waiting is the hardest part – I can deal with whatever comes of those results, but I just need to know, and waiting through Christmas is very tough for me, my family and my close friends who know. Regardless of what deal I get dealt, I will continue to follow you, not only because you are Connie’s cousin, but you are just a very inspiring woman. I am filled with anger and mixed emotions between that and anxiety and just being really scared right now, but I read your blog and feel better. You are doing something good for yourself and for others in the same situation, and you give strength and inspiration to those who follow you. Stay strong, God bless you and Merry Christmas!

    • Dear Kelly…my thoughts and prayers are with you. Whatever is to come, I know from experience that what you are facing right now may be the most difficult part of your journey: Not knowing. I was not blogging when I awaited my results, and if I did, my blog might be entitled, “F***ing Cancer!” Connie’s sister, Lil, said something to me that really struck home when I was first diagnosed. I was crying to her about the injustice of it all, and she said, “Oh stop your boo-hooing” (they are strong women, those Strangs!), “You will beat this thing and every person I know who had to face cancer has gone on to live a kick-ass life!” So, Kelly, one perk of cancer is that it does give you the green light to go and live a KICK ASS life, however long that life may be. So let’s kick some ass, girl!!!

  3. So much inspiration for everyone of us here! YOu are an inspiration and you have many angels around you, I’m sure. I’ve been reading about angels and buying angels and I feel I’m going it for some reason. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. Merry Christmas Florence! Love the story…just like watching “it’s a Wonderful Life”, only I read it! My Christmas wish for you is that the New Year is a wonderful, healthy, and propserous one! May God and all his angels watch over you and your family!

  5. Merry Christmas beautiful sister. I love to read all your blogs and have found this one especially touching. Keep it up sis. You are an inspiration to many. xoxoxo.

  6. Merry Christmas Florence!! I was talking to Beaton today for Christmas and asked him how you were doing, he told me about your blog and sent me the link. It is wonderful; an inspirational, funny, and entertaining read. It is nice to see you looking so happy and content.and I wish you nothing but wonderful things in the new year. Take care and God Bless you and the kids!!!

    Mary Walsh-Greene

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