Several weeks after I had my mastectomy at Overlook Medical Center, I received a very real gift which took me by surprise. I was in the Cancer Center to meet with Kristen Scarlett, my oncology therapist, when Sarah Mandel asked me if I had received my “bling” during my hospital stay. No, I hadn’t, but it sounded interesting……
The three of us went into her office and she produced a collection of sterling silver cubic zirconium rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I was happily told I could have my pick of an item. The three of us had fun rummaging through all of the possibilities – it was a real girls moment. I picked out a beautiful ring with a modern three “stone” design.
I learned that the “bling” came from the Operation Bling Foundation, which was founded by Chris Ferdinand of Ferdinand Jewelers in New Providence, NJ. Chris began the foundation with her husband, Bill, as the result of a visit they made to a friend who was in the hospital battling ovarian cancer. The friend, who was also a client, complained that she missed her “bling” while in the hospital. The next day Chris brought her friend a gift: a sterling silver cubic zirconium ring. Her friend was so touched, she cried. From that pure act of kindness came the inspiration for Operation Bling Foundation, whose mission is to “give sparkling jewels to cancer patients during their hospital stay, bringing them cheer and pleasure.”
I walked out of that hospital feeling so supported and blessed. Not because I was given a beautiful piece of jewelry, but because of all the emotional support I received from Kristen, Sarah and people I didn’t even know at Operation Bling. I looked down at that ring on my finger and I saw a perfect symbol of that support. The first stone symbolized my family, the second my friends, and the third, all the amazing people like Kristen, Sarah and Chris Ferdinand who came into my life solely due to my cancer experience.
I just picked that ring because it was pretty, but its true value as a symbol of the gifts I was receiving made itself clear soon after I put it on my hand. I had to admit that, right there beside all the losses, were some very real gifts just waiting to be recognized. I hope you had an experience like that. If so, let me know how the gift of emotional support helped you during your cancer experience.
Survival > Experience,
Image courtesy of Brian Fuller