Spirit House – The More You Know

A Box of Love

Tanya Blue was 32 years old and two months away from her wedding when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Discouraged by the defeated appearance of many women she observed as she went through treatment, whose physical appearance reflected the side effects of treatment and whose spirits appeared similarly worn, Tanya knew she didn’t want to allow her diagnosis to define her. “I thought to myself, I don’t want to look like that; this illness will not get the best of me,” she says.

Tanya was determined that the world would see “a beautiful woman who happens to be sick right now.” Her commitment to rising above the physical effects of treatment led her to search out beauty tips, accessories, and advice from experts that would help her make the most of her appearance, allowing her to present a beautiful face to the world while bolstering her spirit.

Having completed treatment, Tanya knew that she wanted to help other women achieve a similar transformation. In 2010 she founded Chemo Beauty Box, with the mission of providing survivors with beauty kits filled with tools and inspiration to combat the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. Tanya herself creates each Chemo Beauty Box that is sent out, and she says she is continually reminded of her own journey as she works to help other women: “I think about how I felt when I was fighting my way through cancer, and that is what inspired me to keep going. I hope that when women received my Chemo Beauty Box, it lifts their spirits.”

For more information about Chemo Beauty Box, visit www.chemobeautybox.com.

Cure-Couture

When fashion designer Linda Segal was going through treatment for breast cancer, she had an idea to design a hospital gown that would be fashionable and practical—a fun and functional antidote to the discomfort and uncertainty of treatment. Sadly, Linda passed away in 2009, before she could see her design become a reality. Now, Linda’s daughter, Ashley Segal, and her design protégé, Linsay Alvarado, have brought Linda’s idea to life with a new line of fashion-forward hospital gowns called, appropriately, Cure-Couture.

“We wanted to continue Linda’s concept and design,” Linsay says, “and provide women in medical situations a fashionable yet functional patient gown they could wear in and out of the hospital.” The gowns, which are available in seven different styles and a variety of colorful patterns and fit women up to size 22, have Velcro closures and features like side ties to allow for a more fitted look, if desired, as well as both front and back access.

The gowns are currently available online, and the company’s founders have plans to sell them in hospital gift shops across the country. “The ultimate goal for Cure-Couture is to help all women feel better about themselves when they confront a medical challenge,” Linsay says. “Helping women battling breast cancer, specifically, is a cause that is very close to our hearts and the true reason we started the company.”

For more information, visit www.cure-couture.com.

Express Yourself

Nurture your creativity to get in touch with your deepest self.

Where do you go to find your deepest self? Some people find a sense of spiritual connection in church; others may experience the same connection in nature or sitting in meditation. It’s true that many roads lead to the same place. There are countless ways to tune in to that internal voice.

Some people experience their deepest self—their deepest sense of spiritual connection—through creative expression. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. We all have a creative spark within us, and it may come alive through music, painting, cooking, gardening, sculpting, knitting, drawing, carving, writing, or any number of creative endeavors. What matters is not the vehicle for creativity but the pursuit. It’s not the end product but the act of giving voice to what lies within you.

In her book Claiming Your Creative Self: True Stories from the Everyday Lives of Women (New Harbinger, 1999), Eileen M. Clegg says, “When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world.”

So, go ahead—express yourself and feel your world expand as you lose track of time and let your imagination soar. Feeling creatively stuck? Here are a few ways to ignite your creative spark:

Immerse yourself in creativity. Creativity isn’t only about creating; you may find that appreciating the creativity of others helps spark something within you. Make time to visit art galleries, attend lectures, enjoy concerts, and expose yourself to creativity and beauty. Your soul will soar—and you might trigger your own imagination.

Join a creative community. Take a class, join a quilting group, or sign up for a creative cooperative, where you can share ideas and encouragement. Surround yourself with other creative people who will support and inspire you.

Spend time in nature. Get outside and move. You’ll feel a rush of endorphins, your spirits will lift, and your creative juices will start to flow.

Keep a journal. Spend time alone with your journal and allow yourself to express your ideas freely. Later you might return to your words and find the seed for a new creative endeavor. Consider keeping a notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas and inspirations.

Be quiet. Creative ideas often bubble up during moments of solitude and peace. Give yourself the time to listen. Your spirit will inevitably nudge you in the right direction.

Connect with an Angel

World-renowned figure-skating champion Scott Hamilton has faced great challenges and has won great victories. Perhaps the most personal has been his battle with cancer. Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997, the Olympic gold medalist went on to defeat the disease and has since become a committed advocate for patients and caregivers.

In 1999 Hamilton founded the Scott Hamilton CARES (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) Initiative in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center and, as part of that initiative, launched 4th Angel, a patient and caregiver mentoring program that matches patients and caregivers with mentors who have been through a similar cancer journey. Patients and caregivers who contact 4th Angel are matched with a mentor, who then contacts them via phone or e-mail to offer support and hope. For more information visit www.4thangel.org.