More Than Cancer: Small Acts of Kindness Add Up to Make a Big Difference
The holidays were approaching, and things were weighing heavily on the members of the Cancer Support Community’s Young Adult support group. “The holidays, the reality of having cancer, the statistics, surgeries, treatments – every member was deeply affected,” says Tricia Lethcoe, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist who facilitates the group.
One thing that came up in group discussion was how having cancer seemed to overshadow everything else that made up each member’s identity. Tricia thought it would be great to give each person an external reminder that they are so much more than a cancer diagnosis. When the idea of Origami Owl’s customizable jewelry came up, it seemed like the perfect fit. Tricia got in touch with Jamie Vargas, an Origami Owl distributor based in Chico.
Jamie was happy to help and went to work finding “sponsors” for each group member – fellow Origami Owl distributors who could cover a portion of the cost of the necklaces. Within just a few days, Jamie had found enough sponsors for every group member, with Origami Owl distributors Julie (Juliana) Herrera, Elizabeth and Patricia Schwind, and Carmen Gallegos all joining Jamie in donating necklaces. Each participant was able to pick charms that represented who they are, what they love, and what is meaningful to them.
“I was able to easily choose very meaningful charms, and then carry them with me through some of the toughest moments of my cancer journey,” says group member Erin. “The symbolism reminds us that we are SO much more – mothers, animal lovers, artists, travellers, etc. I am so sincerely grateful to our Origami Owl sponsors for helping us to celebrate ourselves and remember why we fight so hard against adversity.”
“Origami Owl is all about using jewelry to tell your story,” says Jamie. “From now on, the group members will have something they can literally hold onto and know, ‘this is who I am.’ It was really nice to see how it all came together. I would not have been able to do it by myself – the people on my team really lived up to Origami Owl’s mission of being a force for good.”
Tricia presented the lockets to the group members in December – special tokens of their individuality just in time for what many people find to be the most stressful time of year, even under the best circumstances.
“As a patient, it is easy to get caught up in the shuffle of appointments, tests, and treatments,” says Madison, another group member. “That’s why the Origami Owl jewelry donation was so special. We chose charms that each represented something to us. The necklaces are so beautiful because they are a tangible reminder of who we are outside of cancer. The donors’ gift is bigger than a necklace. For me, it is a powerful affirmation of who I am, and I will be forever grateful for their generosity.”
Agi, another group member, added, “Cancer for anyone, but maybe especially young adults, can be such a lonely experience, and it is very reassuring to know that there are caring people out there who want to help and cheer us on. Donating the jewelry and charms was incredibly thoughtful of them. It is easy to allow cancer to take over one’s identity and it can be such a struggle to accept and become comfortable with a ‘new normal’ after a cancer diagnosis. The exercise of choosing the charms allowed me to remember and focus on all the other precious parts of my life before and outside of cancer.”
Facilitator Tricia Lethcoe is thrilled that all the stars aligned to make this donation possible. “I wanted to give them something that they could touch and share with others. Something that reminds us all that they are so much more than someone with a cancer diagnosis. The lockets were a perfect way to do this.“
“It is so typical of Tricia to go miles above and beyond the call of duty to help and support us,” says Agi. “She is such a fantastic part of the Young Adult group and I feel so thankful for her.”
The Young Adult Support Group is provided free of charge to people with cancer age 18-40. The group meets on the first and third Monday of each month at 7:00pm in Westlake Village. Please call 805.379.4777 prior to attending. This is one of many free support groups provided by the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (www.cancersupportvvsb.org).