KINGMAN – They met in a roundabout way through an ex-boyfriend in 2006 and have been best friends ever since, surviving cancer and dressing up in matching outfits to spread Christmas cheer as Santa’s elves or Mrs. Claus.
Diana Caldon, owner of Diana’s Cellar Door in downtown Kingman, had one of her customers show her pictures of a really neat lady dressed in an elf costume in Las Vegas.
What a coincidence. It was Caldon’s friend, Stephanie Smith.
“We’ve been doing it for years,” Caldon said. “I’ve always dressed up for all the holidays. I just enjoy the spirit of all holidays and making others smile. I’ve always been told I’m a giving person, and to me, the best gift you can give someone is a smile. It’s free.”
After beating three forms of cancer, Caldon feels like she was given a new lease on life. First she had thyroid cancer, then ovarian cancer and eventually breast cancer. She counts her blessings and celebrates life every day.
“I am a much better person due to (cancer). It opened my heart and made me realize that I have so much to live for and to do,” she said.
Her father died from cancer. He was her “strength and angel,” and is smiling down upon her craziness and adventures, she said.
Caldon was dressed in her elf outfit the other day at Walgreens when a girl started talking to her and a crowd gathered around. The store manager begged her not to leave.
Caldon and Smith, a banquet server in Las Vegas, go to the Polar Express in Williams every year dressed as elves. They also attend concerts and other holiday events.
“We want to spread cheer,” Smith said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. “So many people let negativity steer their life, and we step outside that box.”
Smith was given four weeks to live after being diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in 2008. She placed her faith in the will of God and power of prayer, forgoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment in favor of a holistic approach.
She stopped eating meat and drinking anything from plastic bottles, and she started salt therapies and binaural beat frequencies that healed her from the inside out.
“Cancer – besides the birth of my son, who gave me two grandchildren – was the best thing that happened to me,” Smith said. “It changed me and showed me how to live. Some people live to die. Every day I wake up to live. I’m happy to go to work. I’m happy to be in traffic. It’s how you look at life.”
Smith said Christmas was a “big deal” when she was a little girl, with the whole family participating in making gingerbread houses, peanut brittle and red and green popcorn balls.
“You don’t have that feeling any more, it’s so fast-paced. I’m into baking cookies and spreading the cheer,” Smith said.
So if you see these two ladies decked out in their holiday bling, know that they’ll be laughing and smiling all the way to their graves.
“We joke about how we’ll probably get kicked out of the nursing home,” Caldon said. “Life is a precious gift and too short not to live it to the fullest, so that’s what we do.”