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The Story

By BECKY HANSON - January 2nd, 2014 - General News
Becky and David Hanson

Becky and David Hanson

John O’Hara photo

I accidentally grew into being a horse trainer, after graduating from college with an English degree and a certificate to teach high schoolers. That is a long chapter that, now, doesn’t matter. It isn’t The Story.

I was a parent’s dream as I entered adulthood, a textbook evolution: graduated high school, graduated college, married a good man, got employed, saved a little money, and produced two perfect grandchildren for my parents. Surrounded by good friends, family, and clients, I lived in an idyllic setting and for almost 20 years. I worked in the sand, day-in and day-out, side-by-side with my husband, David, while our children grew and flourished in the country. But, again, that isn’t The Story.

One morning last March, with a barn full of good horses and even better clients, our life was suddenly, unceremoniously interrupted during a routine trip to the doctor’s office. I was told they had discovered an extremely rare and potentially debilitating tumor that had taken residence inside my spinal cord. An intramedullary spinal tumor, they called it – words I will not forget. Local doctors shared with me that not a person in the valley would touch me, and that I would be referred to Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco. The instructions were to go home and “wait for someone to call you.” From there, this chapter takes on a life of its own, but that isn’t The Story, nor are the two major surgeries, months of rehabilitation, life-changing physical deficits, and the restructuring of our family and our business. No, that isn’t The Story, either.

The Story that I, Becky Hanson, would like to tell now is one of overwhelming support, the absolutely incredible support of our horse community. Over the last several months, I have tried many times to find words for this horrible, awful, wonderful, amazing experience that I have dubbed “My Little Tumor Adventure.” Yes, there have been horrible, awful parts — the surgeries, the rehab, the radiation, the chemotherapy, and the emotional ups and downs of going from an extremely active Type A personality to a much slower, much more patient Type B. There has been the frustration of new physical limitations and the disappointment of being torn from our business of training reiners.

But all that said, I have been privy to an aspect of humanity, an exceptionally giving and caring aspect, that I never would have known if my life had continued uninterrupted in its textbook fashion. It is the “humanity” side of my experience that has given me the strength and patience to endure the horrible, awful part of The Little Tumor Adventure.

Shortly after an unexpected second surgery to extract an ever-growing tumor and two weeks in acute rehab, the horse community rallied. My family and I were blessed with an unprecedented level of support. Just as the second surgery had come out of the blue, so did the support of our peers. Within days of an excited text message from Barbi Boyle that simply read, “I know what I can do to help… I can fundraise!”, a silent auction of what I would call epic proportions ensued at the High Roller Reining Classic in Las Vegas. Dozens of tables were set up and literally covered with donated items from across the nation. Breedings, tack, artwork, training services, clothing, jewelry — anything people could give, they gave. Big breeding barns gave. Stallion owners gave. Tack stores gave. Trainers gave, our personal clients gave and so did the clients of our peers.

Whether they were touched by our story or scared it could just as easily happen to them, friends and strangers alike gave to the “The Little Tumor Adventure.” If they didn’t give items to the auction itself, they bought the auction items, often well above market value. If they didn’t give items or buy from the online auction, they sent checks to the Tumor Adventure Fund with words of encouragement and love. Long after the auction was over, letters, emails, texts, and Facebook messages kept coming, as did prayers and more arbitrary checks for the medical fund.

Small fundraisers were set up in unlikely places on two continents — I failed to mention that we had trained horses in Italy for five years when we were younger. That is how I accidently became a horse trainer, but that isn’t The Story.

The donations continued to come in. When it was all said and done, our horse community alone blessed us with more than $100,000 in aid. It may be nobody’s business how much money was raised, but I think it is an important part of The Story, and I want people to know just how much, both emotionally and financially “Our Community” supported one of its own. It is still the only aspect of The Story, of My Little Tumor Adventure, that will immediately and inevitably bring tears to my eyes. We will forever be grateful not only for our peers, but humbled by the degree to which they rallied behind us.

I was originally only given 500 words to tell The Story, but I find that there simply aren’t enough words to do The Story justice, so I just keep stringing words together, one right after the other in hopes of doing justice to a community of people that we are so fortunate to be a part of. In the end, I feel like we were the grain of sand within the pearl. In the end, I feel like we were at the right place at the right time and our community needed something to feel good about. We initiated a snowball effect of goodwill and kindness that was simply looking for an avenue through which to express itself. I don’t want to take away from The Little Tumor Adventure or people’s desire to give to my family, but sometimes I feel like The Story is bigger than me and my family. I feel like The Story is about our innate desire to do good and to support our fellow man. The Story is bigger than The Little Adventure. The Story is about the importance of community, whatever your community might be. It is about sympathy and empathy and our natural inclination to extend a hand to those who need it. The Little Tumor Adventure and all of its chapters have changed me, but it is The Story of My Community that ultimately made me forever a better person, and it is that Story for which I am the most grateful.

MORE ONLINE: See website http://www.mylittletumoradventure.com

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