Twin Peaks Miracle

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I recently took my four-year-old son Xander to Twin Peaks. A 39-year-old mom undergoing breast cancer treatment, I wanted special time alone with my youngest before my imminent double mastectomy, time I hoped would remind him of my vibrancy and affection when I would be less capable during recovery.

We tackled both peaks then ventured onto a less-explored outcropping. We found a single wild iris and followed a fuzzy caterpillar slinking through the grass. While Xander raced gleefully up the trail, I drank in the brilliant view and was filled with peace.

When we returned to the car, a smashed window. The handbag I had foolishly hidden under a jacket, gone. I was dismayed and Xander howled, worried the thieves would return to hurt us. I reassured him: they wanted only money. Maybe they were without food, clothes or a home, I said, and needed it more than we did. Maybe, I thought, this is city living or just more bad luck since my diagnosis.

The next night, a knock at the door. Alone in my pajamas, bald head uncovered, my family in bed, I hesitated before cracking it open to two smiling young men. One extended items from my wallet, found during their own evening romp on Twin Peaks.

A few days later, while I was in surgery at UCSF, a Breast Care Center staffer called my husband. He had my journal, also lost during the theft. Another cancer patient found it on Twin Peaks. While filled with my treatment notes, it had no identifiers. She graciously brought it to the center. They tracked it to me, and returned it as I was wheeled into recovery.


Today, I'm filled with optimism. While the road to being cancer free is long, my immediate recovery is going well. The Twin Peaks incident reminds me of a few essential truths: that our actions matter, and even a small kindness can be huge. That city living has its nuisances but San Franciscans take care of each other. That natural beauty and a child's spirit light up dark times. And that no matter how dismal our circumstances, goodness and gratitude can prevail.

With a Perspective, I'm Kelley Karandjeff.

Kelley Karandjeff does educational research on community colleges and lives in San francisco with her husband and two sons.