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The Burden of Strength, the Blessing of Home

Being strong, both physically and mentally, is not always a blessing. When you're strong, people expect you to always be strong. They expect you to be able to do it all yourself, and they expect you to be okay with whatever is happening.

In 5th grade, my dad redid a bedroom for me and my sister and I was the one designated to help hang drywall. My nickname as a kid was "Moose" because I was bigger than my petite little brothers and sisters, and I was strong. So I held the drywall while dad nailed away and as much satisfaction as it gave me to be part of that, and learn what it takes to remodel a room, I did come out with a whack on the head from a sledgehammer due to a little mishap.

As a young woman, I did my own moving every time I packed up and hit a new city for a new job. Nothing's off limits. I've moved a piano, bedroom furniture, TV's, even a concrete tabletop. I've moved those things up and down stairs! My husband knows he can ask me to lift the washing machine into the back of the truck, so we don't call movers, or friends.

I am just as mentally tough. I'm not the kind of girl that breaks down over every little thing. I don't cry at movies. I don't cry when I read books. That mental toughness is part upbringing, part "nature of the business I'm in." If you're going to deliver stories of child abuse, murder and grizzly fire scenes to the public, you have to detach or you won't make it.

It doesn't mean I never cry, I just don't do it a lot.

But I've cried enough this year for a lifetime. And when I was diagnosed, I told myself not only would I let myself cry, I'd let myself accept help, in all forms. I'd heard enough stories from others to know breast cancer wouldn't be something I could do alone, physically or mentally.

It turns out, when you let people know the strong girl needs help, they listen and they come through.

It has truly been one of the most amazing blessings of this experience. Friends, survivors, colleagues and family members have rallied. They've sent messages of support. They've sent meals. They've watched my kids. They've shared stories.

And the biggest supporter has been my hometown in rural northeast Missouri.

I didn't know how to tell them all thank you - so I posted a letter in the local paper. I wanted to share it here - because I'm just so proud of where I come from, who these people are to me, and how much they've meant in this process.

I hope you all have a hometown rallying every time you need it - the beautiful thing about my hometown is that they're there if you need them or not.

MAY 2017

When I left my hometown of Palmyra at the age of 17, it wasn’t because I didn’t like my little town or love the people in it. I went away to college, graduated, and the nature of my work as a t.v. journalist was to take a job where you could get it. That was in Wisconsin. After a while, the homesick feeling wore off and life went on and I kept moving farther away.

In 2002, life brought me to Florida and I’ve been here ever since. I stay in touch with my Palmyra family and friends; I have a subscription to the Palmyra Spectator and follow several people on social media. I visit home a couple of times a year and always shop the local stores and eat at the local restaurants.

Even though I don’t live there, Palmyra still feels like home when I am there. And then this year happened. In January I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Shortly before my surgery, my husband and I decided to make that news public. My hometown family rallied.

Over a thousand miles apart and more than two decades of being away couldn’t stop the love and support coming from a small rural community in the middle of the country to a gulf coast city in the Southeast.

Online posts, messages, cards, gifts, prayers – the love came in all forms and from all kinds of people, some of whom I had never met. They either shared a diagnosis, or they simply shared a word of hope and kindness.

Cancer is a very daunting disease and even when the prognosis looks good and the future is bright, inside it still haunts you. The support of loved ones, friends and family (even my hometown family), lifted me up every day. No, really, every day. Whether it was flowers arriving, a prayer quilt or a card, there was always something in the mailbox, a delivery at the door or a message in my inbox.

By definition, a hometown is simply where you were born or grew up. But I assure you all, my hometown is so much more. My hometown laid my life’s foundation, provided a safe place to return when times were tough and poured out love when it was needed most. My hometown is more than a city in rural America with a census population of 3,622. My hometown is 3,622 people willing to rally, pray and cheer for you when you need it most.

I don’t know if “thank you” could ever be enough for you to know and feel my heartfelt gratitude.

A song my mother taught us when we were children, one that we sang every time we left the country and hit the city limit sign, may say it best:  “I say Palmyra, Palmyra, the best town in the land. Right in the middle of the USA, between the New York Harbor and the San Francisco Bay, oh it’s a wonderful town, it’s a beautiful town! The best town that I know! That’s why I’m singing so loud because I’m so proud of Palmyra my hometown!”

I am simply humbled by my hometown and appreciative of all your love and support along the way. With a grateful heart and a place I’ll forever call home, thank you again for everything.

Bless you all, Richelle


  1. You are such an inspiration to me and to everyone that has this dreaded disease. You are always in our prayers!!

  2. Richelle, you are really amazing! Strong, bright, loving, kind, fair and truly an inspiration to more people than you can imagine. Your stories are shared with other to inspire hope and determination. And it has a ripple effect. You share possibilities.Thank you for this and thank you for being a part of my family.


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