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My Unsung Hero: Mary Fran Lyons

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from Mary Fran Lyons. In 2003, Lyons was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. One day, not long after a treatment session, she went to the mall to have lunch.

MARY FRAN LYONS: And I was bald, of course, having lost all my hair, and I really hated wearing the wig. So I would always wear a baseball cap just so I would have something on my head. But you didn't have to look at me very hard to know that things were not quite right.

Anyway, I'm walking along in the mall, looking into storefronts, and this woman came up to me. And she said, I've been sent to tell you that you're going to be OK. And I stood there and looked at her, and I thought, well, who sent you? I mean, who are you? And I did not say anything, and she said it again - you're going to be OK. And then she turned, and she walked away. And I remember turning and looking after her, and she looked like a completely normal human being. And I don't know who she was. I never met her before, never heard of her since.

And I was telling a friend of mine about this, and she said, do you believe in angels? And I said, I do now. And she said, you hold that close to your heart. And I said, believe you me, I will.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LYONS: It has been over 21 years since that happened, and I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. If that woman were standing in front of me right now, I would say to her, you gave me hope at a time when I really needed to hear it. And I still think of that to this day.

PFEIFFER: Mary Fran Lyons lives in Vashon, Wash.

You can find more stories like this on the "My Unsung Hero" podcast. And to share your own story of an unsung hero, record a voice memo and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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