How Small Acts of Kindness Changed My Life

October is always a big deal for me. The 2nd is my birthday, the 14th is the anniversary of the day I found a breast lump, and the 25th marks three years since I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. All that and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, too.

I have a hunch you’re already “aware,” so I’m concentrating my message on what you can do for someone who has breast cancer. Maybe you can’t cure it, maybe you don’t have a lot of time to spare, and maybe you haven’t a clue what to say, but you can do something.

In December 2010, Care2′s Founder and CEO, Randy Paynter, published a blog post called, “Shine a Light,” in which he wrote:

“Today, we’re going to shine one glorious sunbeam of collective love on one such individual to bring a little bit of karmic balance back to the world.”

The target of that sunbeam was me. Randy briefly touched on my history with multiple sclerosis and the new diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer, but he wasn’t seeking sympathy for me. It was a call to action:

“Love is a powerful force, so together, we’re going to send her a collective bolt of sunshine to brighten her day and hopefully fight off some of that badness. Please take a moment to send Ann some good thoughts via a brief message in the comments area below. Your words will make a difference, and together we’ll show that love is the most powerful force of all.”

He was right.

As I write this in 2013, that blog post stands a pleasant reminder that a few simple words, when spoken or written with a full heart, can make all the difference in the world. I still remember the power of Randy’s words, and the words of all who followed his lead. I remember the cookies sent by a faraway acquaintance, who feared her effort was “kinda lame.” The postcard of support left by the mail carrier I hadn’t met remains one of my most prized possessions. Make no mistake about it — small acts of kindness have a big and lasting impact.

October is a big deal for me. It was a tough road for a while, but here I am, healthy as can be, and grateful for every small act of kindness that came my way when I needed it. I’m repaying that kindness at every opportunity.

If you ever have the chance to send a bolt of sunshine, I hope you do it. It’s every bit as glorious to be part of the sunbeam as it is to receive it.

Related Reading
Shine a Light: Ann Pietrangelo
The Breast Self-Exam You Need to See (video)
Younger Women Need Mammograms, Says New Study
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Could a Common Painkiller Fight Aggressive Breast Cancer?

Photo: iStock/Thinkstock


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa3 years ago

Thank you

Angela J.
Angela J4 years ago

Great article.

Maria W.
Connie W4 years ago

aww....ty for sharing

Sharon S.
Sharon S4 years ago

A lovely heartwarming story. I believe that we are programmed to naturally be kind, but society no longer values it and so neither do we. It is somehow better to be 'tough' and 'strong' and not show our soft side. Yet when I do something kind just for the sake of it, the feeling I get inside is just amazing. I feel 'lit up' and fulfilled in a way that nothing else can achieve. So I have tried to teach my two children that being kind is one of the best things that you can be, and I hope that this will be my lasting legacy to them.

Josephina Schneider

thats sweet :D

Franck Rio
Past Member 4 years ago


Val M.
Val M4 years ago


june t.
reft h4 years ago

small, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness can have a surprisingly huge impact on someone. Never underestimate those small acts of kindness.

Azaima A.
Azaima A4 years ago