Talk to her, I thought. Talk to her. Normally, I don't strike up conversations with perfect strangers but there was something about the woman waiting for the elevator with me at the medical complex. And after I pressed the buttons for our floors -- six for her, seven for me -- I couldn't ignore the voice in my head any longer.
"Nice day, isn't it?" I said.
"Sure is," she replied.
And that was that. A pleasant distraction from the backache that had brought me there, but not much more.
At my appointment I received some injections to help ease the pain. An hour and a half later, I left the office and stepped on the elevator again. It stopped at the sixth floor and a woman got on -- the same woman I'd seen earlier.
"I hope everything went well with your visit," I said to her. She was silent, her eyes puffy. Quickly, she wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"I'm sorry. It's just ... I found out I could have breast cancer," she said. "I've found a lump and I'll need a biopsy. I've never felt so alone, so afraid."
My heart sank. I wasn't expecting to hear anything like that. Yet, when the elevator reached the lobby, I knew just what to say.
"You're going to be fine," I told her. "Most lumps are not cancerous. And if it is, the doctor's caught it early. There are so many options for treatment now. They'll put you in remission and you'll be able to move on with your life."
"Wow!" she said. "I'm really trying to stay positive and you sound so confident. How do you know all this? "
"Because I've been in your shoes," I said. "I'm a breast cancer survivor and I'll never forget how scared I was. But I finished treatment two years ago, and have been cancer-free ever since. Trust me ... no matter what, you're going to make it through."
The woman gave me a big hug and wiped away her tears. And I walked away knowing that the urge to talk to a stranger can be part of a much bigger plan.
Written by Dorothy Weis, this story first appeared in the October 2012 issue of Guideposts magazine, a monthly publication, founded by Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, that provides hope, encouragement and inspiration to millions. Download of a condensed version of "The Power of Positive Thinking' absolutely FREE.