Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My First Lecture about a Last Lecture

I was recently asked to be a guest speaker for the 11th grade English students at Bingham High School. There will be about 180 sixteen to seventeen year old kids that are all listening intently to every word I say. Well at least the ones they hear in between sending text messages to each other ;)
The book the students are reading. It's about a guy with terminal cancer and his advice to people. The teacher though I was a good real life example of the words in this book. 
I am speaking on Friday and although I have been contemplating and pondering my speech for at least a week and a half, I have made very little headway. I have never given a speech or talk longer than 10 minutes.

Here's where you guys come in. I have received so many texts, emails and comments about how much you guys appreciate my blog and my willingness to share my story. Is there something specific about what I've said that has been helpful or inspiring? I don't feel inspiring because I am just being me. I just write about whatever I feel like, but I guess when you have cancer even normal things are spotlighted. I would really appreciate if you guys gave me some specifics about what to you has been inspiring. Not because I am looking for compliments, trust me, that is not what this is about, but because I really want to do the best job I can to reach out to these teenagers. It wasn't very long ago that I sat in a high school auditorium wondering where my life would take me and thinking how invincible I was. I want to say things that won't be cliche or unrelatable.

Thanks friends :)


  1. I think I told you this when I emailed you with help for my lesson, but I've really just been so impressed at your positive, cheerful attitude throughout this whole experience. For example, instead of being sad about cutting your hair off, you had a party for it! So incredible! Even thought I'm sure this is unbelievably difficult for you, you rarely show it or anything. You're also been so humble and gracious for all the nice things that people have done for you. I am very independent and I think we're the same in that way, so I can imagine how even accepting the sweet gestures of those around you would be a little hard, as silly as that sounds. But you've just been so sweet and grateful. You're definitely the perfect person to speak to these kids and I really hope they pay attention. There's a lot they could learn from you. (I know I have!!)

  2. Just like Alyssa said, you have a very positive and cheerful attitude. Instead of complaining about your situation, you deal with it in such a positive manner (My favorite blog post was when you did surgery on your monkey). You focus on your blessings and share your story to try and help others.

    -Brittany Rawlins-

  3. Kalina, This book is similar to a book called "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom. Perhaps you could look there at his advice, for some ideas on what exactly to say. Also, my own thoughts: I second everything the above person said. I know from being your roommate and friend that you're so determined and disciplined with everything you do. With running, for example, it's become one of your life passions and it always motivated me, as your roommate, that you were so active in it. Even during mornings when I'm sure you didn't want to run, you got up at 5 or 6 am and did it anyway because you were motivated and dedicated and you knew that the hard work would pay off. Perhaps you could share how you have been motivated in your life to be dedicated in: running, playing viola, being a member of the church, etc. and perhaps explain what past events or experiences have shaped you as a person to make you who you are today. Also, your positivity when being your roommate is something I remember about you most. Of course you are human, and you had bad days, and sometimes were sad, but you are still one of the most genuinely and consistently cheerful and positive persons I know. And this attitude has continued, even with your cancer as all can see on your blog. You're a remarkable lady and have taken all of your challenges with grace, selflessness and positivity. You are an example to all, and I'm sure whatever you come up with to say to the students will be inspiring and motivational.

  4. I really liked your "what you should know before you decide to get cancer" post. I think that explaining all the good that has come out of the bad can be really powerful for a group of high school students. It seems like a good way to help expand their understanding of how powerful attitude can be. personally, I'm inspired every time I read one of your posts that says you are the happiest person in the world. It's also a major theme in the book, so I think they will be able to make that connection. Also, you say that you don't feel inspiring, because you just write what you feel. Thats EXACTLY what makes it so inspiring- You aren't trying to be inspiring. Anyway, best of luck!

    Jeff Bennett

  5. Kalina,

    You have always had an indominable and competitive spirit. I believe this is what has made you successful throughout your life, whether in athletics, boating, bmx, school or whatever. It is also what has allowed you to look at cancer from the prospective of what you need to do next to "kick its butt". You have also accepted and allowed those around you to provide service to you and Ster. This shows that you have become more Christ-like, even though, I am sure it has been difficult accepting things that you would normally do your self. I would suggest that you be "yourself" when talking to the kids and tell them the same. From the words of Gordon B Hinckley; "Be yourself....But be your best self"

  6. I use to speak a lot, my brother use to teach high school. so he would set up speaking gigs for me and my late husband to talk to all the high school kids about our experiences living over seas. Then I spoke after their death to several groups about that. So my advice is tell stories don't lecture, explain how to make plans for the future but that life never turns out how you plan and that's the trick. Life is a choice remember many of them are at a cross road not yours but theirs and you will be helping them though your story. Talk to them don't read it like a church talk. I would make an out line, things I wanted to tell them, stories I wanted to say,the order I wanted it in. I would have it on a small card and just talk to them like they were all my friends. Another idea is have a question and answer period, and you'd be talking about what they want to know. like everyone else said be yourself, also listen to other people to advice but do what works for you. you'll be great. These are just some ideas u hope it helps.
    Jane Johnson

  7. I have loved your openness and your honesty. You tell it like it is and you let your cute personality shine through.

    Just be yourself - the students will love you! Margaret H. xoxo

  8. Kalina -

    You don't know me, but I have been following your blog religiously since your aunt Wendy told me about your diagnosis. I have been friends with Wendy for more than 17 years, and she is one of my closest friends. I also plan to meet you in person at the 5K and have sponsored several people to run at the 5K.

    I am required to do a lot of public speaking through my employment, and although my topics are healthcare related and boring, the best compliments I have ever received are not about the content, but about the PASSION that I have for what I do for a living, and the ENERGY I put into everything I do. Your passion, honesty, integrity, and positivity come through on EVERY blog post I have read, and it is clear that this is how you have chosen to take your diagnosis, and move forward.

    Teenagers do not understand the frailty of life, nor should they have to. But what they will appreciate is your amazing attitude and humbleness, and they are LUCKY to have the opportunity to hear you speak!

    I look forward to meeting you in person, and good luck!!

  9. Wow, everyone thank you all SO much. Every single one of your comment helped me write the speech!!! I tried to incorporate every suggestion but I can already tell I left some out :( But thank you sooooo much for the help. I can't believe how nice you guys are to me. THANK YOU

  10. KALINA!
    I just wanted to tell you thanks you so much for taking your time to come to Bingham high school and speak to us. it was so amazing, you are amazing and so full of positives! it was a great speach and i really learned a lot and hope for the best for you :) your a great example and i hope thinks work out for the best!!


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