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How a random act of kindness at a SLO doughnut shop brought a cancer patient’s mom to tears

San Luis Obispo resident Claire Noland, 6, was diagnosed with cancer six months ago. Atascadero resident Tom Weatherman, left, bought Claire a doughnut at SLO Donut Co. on July 19 to celebrate optimistic lab results; on Wednesday, July 25, she was told she is cancer free.
San Luis Obispo resident Claire Noland, 6, was diagnosed with cancer six months ago. Atascadero resident Tom Weatherman, left, bought Claire a doughnut at SLO Donut Co. on July 19 to celebrate optimistic lab results; on Wednesday, July 25, she was told she is cancer free.

Small treats can sometimes get you through the hardest of times. Pair that with a random act of kindness, and it’s enough to give you “the strength to get through the finish line,” San Luis Obispo resident Lindsey Noland said of just such an experience she and her daughters had last week.

They were at the popular SLO Donut Co. on Thursday celebrating the optimistic lab results of her 6-year-old daughter Claire, who was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma earlier this year. That’s when a man named Tom, appropriately wearing a cancer benefit T-shirt, stepped forward and offered to pay for their doughnuts. The encounter ended in tears of joy.

“These acts of kindness will never be lost on me,” Noland wrote in a Facebook post.

Claire, whose cancer was found throughout her body and brain, had recently completed her sixth and hopefully last round of chemotherapy and had been “quarantined at home” for the previous 10 days. However, after her most recent biweekly lab check up Thursday, the doctor said she was cleared to be in public, Noland said.

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The family went straight from the lab to doughnut shop to celebrate.

“I’ve never seen so much joy radiating from kids,” SloDoCo cashier Quentin Montoya said. “They seemed so excited.”

While Claire was picking out her galaxy marshmallow doughnut, Tom — who identified himself as a veteran — insisted he pay for the family’s doughnuts to help “lighten the burden.”

The stranger’s act of kindness brought her to tears, Noland said, and she and her daughter hugged the man.

“This was a humbling experience,” Noland said. “Claire and I are trying to hold on to the belief that (the cancer) will be gone, but we are mentally preparing ourselves for her to still have it.”

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The family and man chatted for a while and snapped a picture before parting ways, but Noland said the experience was just what they needed to get them through the week.

“His act of kindness felt like someone giving us the strength to get through the finish line,” Noland said.

Her daughter, who has been receiving treatment at Stanford University, will have an extensive six-hour scan Wednesday to see whether she is cancer free, Noland said.

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