Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Breast Friends

Dear friends, I have something wonderful to share with you this morning. I have been sitting on a rather large surprise for the last couple of months, but now that February 6th has arrived, I am finally able to share it with you.

As many of you know, Joanna Pierotti was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late fall. It's the kind of diagnosis every woman hopes she will never get and when it does happen, it changes your life forever. As soon as I heard, I knew that Joanna would need all the love and support she could get. There's nothing worse than facing a crisis and feeling like you are all alone and I knew there were lots of people who would want to do something, anything to let her know they cared. To that end, I decided to take on hosting a collaborative book project to create a book of hope and inspiration for Joanna. Shari Schneider later suggested we all make charms to be included, which was a brilliant idea. (Thanks Shari!)

The response for the Breast Friends project was overwhelming. I received art for Joanna from:

Amy Huff, Angie Platten, Claudia Roulier, Danielle Muller, Heather Simpson Bluhm, Joan Craft, Joan Ellis, Joan Locicero, Judy Keefe, Judy Scott, Kelly Snelling, Kristen Robinson, LaRinda Chapin, Lia Kent, Liz SMith, Marie Ostreich, Peggi Graminski, Penelope Harris, Shari Beaubien, Shari Schneider, Stacie Rife, Suz Longley, Tanya Peacock, Teresa Atkinson, Tina Shoaga and Zorana Stanjkovic.

In December, I scanned each page in the book, as well as each charm (a huge job, but one I was so happy to do!) before putting them together. I also thought it would be a good idea to create a smaller book featuring a picture of each charm with the creator's name underneath so Joanna would know who made each one hanging on her bracelet. You can see the entire book and all the charms by clicking here. (Best viewed as a slideshow to get the full effect.)

I could have just sent the package off and she would have opened it when it arrived, but I decided to do something different. I emailed Joanna a couple weeks ago and told her the package was coming her way. I asked her to save it until she went to her first day of chemo and once she was settled and having her treatment, she could open it. Joanna had said several times she was feeling anxious and fearful about having chemo and I thought it would be wonderful if this gift could soften the blow by giving her something happy and beautiful to look foreward to. Joanna emailed back and said how excited she was and that she and another friend who is undergoing chemo were going to have a "Chemo Party" today. So...right now, Joanna is at her appointment, opening her gift from everyone and probably crying lots of happy tears. I am sure she feels our love and friendship surrounding her and lifting her up. Doesn't that just make you feel *so* good?!

There's a quote I love that says: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." To all of you who did just that, who were so generous with your time and talents, for caring about Joanna and wanting to make a difference, THANK YOU! You have made a difference in someone's life today. Thank you for being Joanna's Breast Friends!

*All artwork appearing in the Breast Friends Collaborative remains copyrighted to the individual artists.


Jennifer Rowland said...

WOW, WOW, WOW!!! I'm speechless and I need another tissue. What a beautiful project and outpouring of love. Joanna will most definitely be surrounded with your hugs and love today as she begins her chemo..

maggiegracecreates said...

I am in awe of the love and support offered in those pages. I feel so inadequate among all these incredible artists as well.

Thank you for all of your work in pulling this together.

WOW - Teresa Atkinson

Shari said...

I just watched the slide show on flickr. This project is just amazing! I never dreamt how really beautiful and meaningful it would be when it was completed. You did an incredible job of organizing, putting it all together and scanning these awesome works of art. Thank you so much for giving so much of your time and talent. I am sure that this will mean so much to Joanna.
-hugs, shari xoxoxo

liz said...

sweetheart--this is AMAZING!! you worked SO hard!! i KNOW joanna is laughing, crying and enjoying EVERY minute of opening her books and bracelet.
what a gift for her on a very tough day--i am SO priveleged to have been a part of this.
thank you for ALL you do!
much love
liz xx

Angie in AZ said...

Thank you so much for putting this project together and allowing me to participate. The book is gorgeous but seeing that charm bracelet made me gasp out loud! What I would give to be a fly on the wall watching JoAnna open this gift! I can't wait to hear her reaction! What a fantastic idea and a ton of work... you did a fabulous job coordinating and putting everything together! What a treasure!

Judy Scott said...

Dear Lelainia how beautifully you have presented and photographed our work you have been so generous with all you have done ~ Im sure JoAnna will feel all our love ~ thankyou for allowing us the opportunity to send JoAnna our pages filled with hope, the book looks amazing and packed with so much love and the bracelet is fabulous, I just want to say thankyou so much. Hugs to you ~ Judy xxxx

JoAnnA said...

Dear Lelainia and all my Breast Friends,

I am still in awe of what my heart captured today through these wonderful amazing gifts. Yes, I wish each and every one of you could have been there to share those special moments. I cried, I made little noises of astonishment as my eyes gazed upon each page. What a precious time indeed. Then when I opened up the bracelet I just couldn't beleive it. Each charm is amazing and YES, i feel so loved and cared for. You all made my day a very special one indeed.

I actually had a blast at chemo today, I really did. I even have to wear it home for a few days and I'm feeling really good thus far. Tired but okay. I can't believe how fun it was and what a relief that this first day is past me. My friends so enjoyed the book and bracelet too. It was so fun to share and now they all want to make one. So maybe I can start some art fun with them all during chemo. See how it all works. Your giving to me inspires so many others.

Not last nor least, oh my Dear Lelainia, what a blessing you are to me to organized such a treasure. You have really touched the depths of my soul. The way you presented it to me just came fit for a princess. thank you honey so very much. You have a gift to do this and I so am honored to be the receiver of such joy. I feel I can't say enough but please do know you and every made this a very special day for me. May God bless you and all who gave of themselves. I will cherish these forever and wear my bracelet proudly.

With much love and gratitude, humbled yet uplifted in a way it gives me wings to keep moving forward...and I'm hoping to fly.


shari beaubien said...

The finished book looks just lovely, Lelainia. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this. I *KNOW* JoAnnA is feeling the love, as you said! Hugs, Shari

Joan Ellis said...

Thank you, Lelainia, for having the inspiration to start this book, for all the work you put into constructing it and the bracelet--we are all indebted to you for your time and your generosity. I am so proud to have been a part of this! Reading JoAnnA's response filled my heart to bursting!

Izabella said...

I know JoAnnA had big tears of joy when she opened this package, what a wonderful piece you put together with all these artists' .....your heart is precious~

AnnieElf said...

Extraordinary. Loved seeing it all on Flickr. Bless you all.

Peggi Meyer Graminski said...

Oh Lelainia, it is truly a treasure! Thank you so very much for organizing the collaborative and putting the book and bracelet together so beautifully. I loved viewing all the different pages and charms at FlickR - each artist shared a piece of their heart, I believe. I am so grateful to you to have been a part of this experience. I think it was wonderful that JoAnnA opened her gifts on her first day of chemo, and could feel the love and support the art community and her many friends have for her...Blessings to all, Peggi

crafty said...

hi Lelainia,
Thanx for your wonderful work in putting together the book and the bracelet and mini bracelet book.
It's much appreciated just so proud that I was able to be a part of this wonderful project.
wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Joanna opened everything...................knowing my luck I think I may have been swatted beforehand !!!!!! LOL
and regards and well done to all my fellow artists here.
joan in italy

Linda Sonia said...

what a wondrous and lovely thing you've all done. just awesome!.

suzie q said...

Thank you so much, Lelainia, for organising this and making such a beautiful gift for JoAnnA! It's amazing to see, and to read JoAnnA's reaction to it. It's a real privilege to have been part of this project and I hope it brings peace to JoAnnA and inspiration to many others! Thanks again. What a blessing you are!

Suze xXx