How Crafting Helped Heal Me Through Breast Cancer

Breast cancer survivor Jennie Smith's mission to create for a cause.

I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was July of 2016 and I was 40 years old. As a wife and a mother to two beautiful children, I listened in shock as my doctor delivered the news over the phone. The words, “You have breast cancer,” reverberated through me and a new reality settled in. 

My husband, Justin, was the first person I told. It was a hard conversation to have, but one that set the groundwork for how and when to tell our children, Dylan (13 yrs old) and Jovie (11 years old). Knowing it needed to happen sooner than later, we chose one evening after a family dinner as the right time. 

Together, with all four of us sitting around the living room, rounding out another day as always with full stomachs and stories to share, suddenly, I had the floor. It was my turn. Before I could even open up and utter the words, “I have cancer,” I began by letting my kids know that what I was about to say was going to be tough to hear, but I didn’t want them to be scared. From there, my son knew it was something serious—he snuggled up next to me and asked what was wrong. I broke the news by saying, “You know what baby, nothing’s wrong, but Mom’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.” Then I told them we were going to do everything we possibly could to fight this disease. 

We had a big journey ahead of us and in order tackle each day head on as a family, I knew we couldn’t keep my diagnosis to ourselves. We needed the support of friends and the community we lived in to get through this challenging time in life. And I’m so glad I leaned on the people around me. 

Over the course of my chemo treatment, I learned how powerful words of encouragement are in seeing the horizon on the other side. As those around me rallied for my health, I had no choice but to get up and face each day with a spirited, confident outlook. But what struck a chord with me even more was how people went out of their way to create personalized gifts of joy and hope with uplifting messages, reminding me to keep going, to be strong and to never stop fighting. These daily inspirations made all the difference in my healing and played a significant role in my cancer story—I do not believe my treatment would have been so successful if it weren’t for these tender moments from my family, friends and colleagues at Cricut cheering me along. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Cricut, it is a brand that aims to change people’s lives through do-it-yourself projects that enrich and inspire. Never did I realize that my job and the company I work for would have such a deep impact in my life. I go into an office every day where people are constantly encouraging positivity and seeking a creative outlet. As a therapeutic tool for self-expression, crafting offers a meaningful way to connect with others and I am a true testament of that link.  

There is a clear relationship between crafting and wellness in helping people cope through difficult times in life. When I was on the receiving end of those personally made gifts, I found the energy to dance even at my weakest. Today, at my strongest, I have made it my mission to instill the message of hope in others battling cancer—to help them not just survive but thrive in their diagnosis and treatment like I did. These days, I spend much of my time working to fulfill that mantra through various crafting projects for patients undergoing chemo. From making jewelry to motivational slogans and wall décor, or personalizing apparel, pillows and blankets, the empowering gift of hope is what’s really on the inside. 

Now, three years in remission, I am so grateful to be here today, and I understand more than ever what it means to give back to those in the fight against cancer. It means going above and beyond to touch someone’s heart while they are lying in a hospital bed. It means saying, “You can do it,” when they think they can’t. It means being a source of constant love and nurturing support by fueling them with words that move mountains and push the soul to believe in something bigger than themselves. 

And the best part of all of this is you can do it yourself

As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month and I reflect on my journey, I am once again in awe of all the love and kindness I received from the people around me. They healed and taught me that even little things such as a personalized card, goes a long a way. I am so thankful to be surrounded by not only amazing family and friends, but a company that prioritizes the well-being of its employees and community. Join me in crafting for a cause. 

Until October 31st, Cricut is donating up to $60,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through the sales of our products and the use of breast cancer awareness artwork. The mission of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation is to advance the world’s most promising research to eradicate cancer, with 90% of donated funds going directly to medical research. All breast cancer awareness artwork in Design Space® is free for the month of October, so go ahead – make your heart out.

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