Each personal journey is filled with challenges and milestones. May this gift continue to remind you of your own personal beauty and be a source of strength and healing to help nourish your soul along the way.
The small notecard is tucked into the teal organza gift bag, alongside a one-of-a-kind necklace, selected by an MGH patient before her first chemotherapy treatment to battle ovarian cancer. The touching memento is part of the Janet’s Jems for Healing program, created and run by Lori Slavin, which honors her mother, Janet, who died from the disease nearly two decades ago.
“My mother had an eye for beautiful art and she loved jewelry,” Slavin says. “This program allows me to honor her and feel closer to her, and it allows me to show patients that there are people who are rooting for them and it reminds them how beautiful they are. It’s a talisman of healing and support, and I hope it reminds them of life as a ‘normal,’ beautiful person.”
Slavin says she began making jewelry when she was in junior high school and in recent years sold her creations in various boutiques. “It got to a point where it just wasn’t fulfilling,” she says. “I wanted the jewelry – my art – to have more meaning.”
In October 2015, Slavin turned to her husband, Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, who suggested she reach out to Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, chief nurse and senior vice president of Patient Care Services. “Lo and behold, within a few days, we brainstormed this program,” Slavin says. “The nursing staff has been really remarkable in first helping get the program started and now giving out the necklaces to patients when I can’t be at the hospital.”
Since its inception, Slavin has provided 60 pieces of handmade jewelry to ovarian cancer patients when they come to the MGH for their first chemotherapy treatment, as well as to other patients who participate in the Look Good, Feel Better program – a monthly class offering beauty techniques for patients with cancer. Starting this month, Slavin plans to expand the program by visiting patients who are receiving treatment in the infusion unit.
“The necklaces are inspirational,” says Kathleen Gill-Bazazi, manager of Images. “They are so unique – some are bright and bold and others are simple. Patients find one that matches their personality or that they think will bring them added strength to get through treatments. Lori coming in and sharing with them how cancer touches everyone’s lives and explaining this program is a way to provide beauty and healing to them – it’s really special. It cheers them up.”
Slavin hopes to grow the program to reach 120 patients annually. “I feel so honored to be able to do this,” she says. “I feel like my mother is here with me and it keeps her spirit alive. I get to pass her love of creativity and her love for life forward to someone else. It’s really special.”
This article was originally published in the 05/12/17 Hotline issue.