I grew up always believing “things happen for a reason”. When I was younger that always helped me through difficult times or helped me explain outcomes that didn’t make sense. As a wife and mom in her 40s, I was challenged to believe that, but found a way. I took a very difficult journey our family was facing and decided to give back. Giving back gave me energy, hope and enabled me to thrive during a difficult time. The LOVED movement was formed!
Almost exactly three years ago our family was in Nicaragua having one of our best family vacations when my husband Steve told me that a spot on his chest was bothering him. I knew in my heart right then that something wasn’t right. When we returned from vacation Steve went to several doctors and they all just attributed it to stress. Fast forward a month later and Steve was now experiencing sharp pains. His doctor did an X-ray and suggested he do a cat scan. Within two days we pulled up to the referred doctor’s office and realized we were at an oncologist. The doctor said Steve 100% had cancer and that it was now determining which type it was.
After a few harrowing days of waiting, Steve’s results came in, he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Steve started on an every other week plan for 6 months of chemotherapy. The first time we went to the treatment center, we were depressed. There were so many people who were worse off than Steve and I felt so helpless for them and him. I wanted so badly to help everyone. I sat there and it came to me that everyone there needed to feel LOVED.
I ended up rushing out of the center to go pick up dinner and dessert that all the patients could take home to their families that night. I wanted patients to know that there are so many people that are thinking of them, wanting to help and that they are LOVED. Over the next six months, we started bringing in something everytime Steve went to treatment. Blankets, socks, candy, dinners, Christmas presents for patients and their families. Honestly if I didn’t have others to focus on, I don’t know if I could have gotten through watching Steve’s chemo. During this time, I decided that I wanted create my own LOVED movement. I am a jewelry designer and already had a necklace already in my line engraved with LOVED. I then thought “wouldn’t it be great if women having cancer treatments could have something tangible with them to feel LOVED”. So I decided that for every LOVED necklace I sold, I would donate a LOVED necklace to a woman with cancer.
After Steve’s six months of treatment, Steve’s chemo wasn’t totally effective so he needed to seek out further treatment. He ended up getting on a trial at Memorial Sloane Kettering that used immunotherapy and smart chemo to put patients in to remission. When remission is achieved patients then go through radiation and a stem cell transplant. Steve was Patient Zero on this trial and the first to successfully get in to remission.
Those 18 months were some of the hardest in my life. Steve checked in to MSK hospital for 3+ weeks to receive intense chemotherapy to take all of his blood counts to zero. Once his counts were at zero, they were able to do a stem cell transplant and he now had to grow everything back. He was so unbelievably strong and positive for those three weeks.
I’m happy to say 18 months post stem cell transplant, Steve is in remission and looks and feels better than ever. I had a moment when we first knew everything was going to be ok that my physical and mental health collapsed. I was going at 150% for 2+ years and needed to stop. complete PTSD. I was able to work through it with the help of doctors, family and friends and like Steve now feel better than ever. Our relationship has always been amazing, but now is even better if that’s possible. Our whole outlook on life was always great, but again if possible is even better.
As a jewelry designer with what I say is my dream job, my favorite part of doing this is giving back. It inspires me to create beautiful pieces that will make women look great and feel fantastic.
Our LOVED collection has grown to include multiple styles of LOVED necklaces, cuffs, earrings and rings too. Since starting this initiative, we have donated over 400 necklaces to women with cancer. Some of my most grateful moments are receiving photos, emails or letters from women who have received one. And the LOVED movement which has helped so many so far and is only getting started!