This year has thrown a great deal of curve balls my way. Something I often say is “Never let a day go by without letting those in your life know what they mean to you.” It is typically followed with much eye rolling, but it is something true that I remind myself of daily to make sure that I acknowledge the people in my life who deserve just that.
In April, I was just getting into my car, Pluto, and was about to head back to ‘reality.’ Another Film Festival had come and gone and I was already reminiscing of the good times and missing my ‘family’ I see once a year. As I was driving and taking in the sunshine (something I had missed seeing after living in Tower City Cinemas for almost two weeks), I thought it was peculiar I had not heard from my mom for a good 13 days. Giving her a call to check in, the moment she answered the phone, I knew that something was very wrong. Not wanting to pry, she made an excuse for having something to do and we hung up saying, “We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Exhausted, a little nervous and mostly realizing, “Holy cow- I have oodles to catch up on,” I came home and began sorting my life, post-festival.
The next day I headed to my parents house to see them. The vibe was odd as I walked in and I thought my heart fell into my stomach when my mom told me that she had to have a lump in her breast biopsied. A year ago it was thought to be a benign cyst but this year it seemed to be something more.
You know when you get a feeling in your gut that you simply can’t shake away? I could not shake away the unknown that I felt I knew.
Long story short, it was biopsied and my mom was about to embark on a journey to fight cancer.
The first thing you do when you hear “cancer” is deny it. I mean, it is always someone you know… but it is not WHO you know. Until it is. After shedding a few tears, I did what anyone would do: Figure out what I could do to help.
Rewinding a bit, I used to work for a well-known lingerie brand. Something that would happen from the first day I worked there until the day I left would be a woman coming in who was undergoing chemotherapy and breast cancer treatments. She would be seeking something to help her bring her femininity back. After working with her and attempting to find what would be best for her, more often than not, she would leave the store empty handed. Now, I am a sensitive person and sometimes to a fault. It always stayed with me how these women were essentially robbed of their womanhood without a choice. They would come in seeking something to help make them feel sexy again and they left with nothing. It stayed with me throughout college and I always dreamed of being able to help in some way.
And then it hit close to home. A bit too close. With my mom undergoing two operations, she complained about the same thing that I heard other women complain of: I don’t want to wear a wireless bra! They are so ugly. And watching her in pain with the wire, I sought out doing what I dreamed to do. I bought her two basic wireless bras. I went all throughout Ohio from craft store to craft store until I found beads, lace and anything with a little extra sparkle. I even headed to San Francisco for additional goodies.
From working with lingerie, I knew where to sew the accessories without interfering with clothing and the healing wound. I also knew what would be easiest to wash and would go unseen under tops.
I accessorized two different bras for my mom for her post-surgery: One with strawberries galore and one super feminine with the added touch of beads representing the birthstones of each of my siblings, sister-in-law, nephews, niece, my dad and myself to symbolize we will all be there for my mom’s recovery.
I put all of the items together and wrapped them up for her in candy striper wrapping to remind her to relax during recovery. My mom literally does it all and to be forced to relax is something she would not take easily. I also added my own good luck charm that was given to me each time I had surgery. I gave it to my mom to borrow to bring her luck and love.
Upon giving her her presents, she was really touched. And the nurses that helped her dress post-surgery said it was such a sweet idea and gave me additional information and input. Feedback I greatly appreciate as I continue to sew and dress up wireless bras for breast cancer patients.
There is nothing quite like watching anyone you know suffering and in pain. You want to do whatever you can to make them feel better. That is what I hope to do. If you know someone currently undergoing chemotherapy or breast cancer treatment, feel free to contact me for some tips or I can create them their own personalized bras.
My heart goes out to any and all of you who have gone through, or are currently undergoing cancer treatments. The strength I have witnessed from those of you while assisting my mom on her cancer journey is something truly inspiring. You are all my heroes.