This title is what Marsha Hammond, one mom who transformed her cancer challenge to bring hope and vitality to others, believes anyone facing chemo can do.
Marsha discovered a lump on Mother’s Day when her son was just three years old. When faced with a sea of uncertainty, Marsha tried to talk her doctors into making the treatment decisions for her, but ultimately knew the she would need to make the decision. When trying to navigate treatment choices that came with her breast cancer diagnosis, Marsha literally flipped an electronic coin. The flip came up “do chemo,” so although terrified, Marsha accepted her fate.
Marsha understood she needed to mentally reframe the experience of treatment and focus on positive and empowering thoughts. She relied on something she learned in teaching white water rafting years earlier: Don’t fight the current, and if you capsize, relax on your back and enjoy the ride. “I was not going to fight. I was going to embrace the little rough stretch,” recalls Marsha.
Taking her pre-treatment tour of the infusion center only raised Marsha’s anxiety levels. How could a place so physically sterile and cold—difficult for anyone, but especially for a young woman whose career it was to enhance physical spaces though design and sculpture—be a place she was going for healing? “I’ve always been one to be affected by my environment,” Marsha explained, “And I knew I had to do something to make the space better for myself.”
Within a week, she returned to the infusion center armed with large apothecary-inspired adhesive decals for her IV bag with uplifting messages she had designed and printed herself. The empowering words on these decals included Sunshine, Vitality, Bravery, Hope, Love and Light, Miracles and Clarity—positive messages she could embrace and visualize as the medicine dripped into her veins.
Marsha came up with the idea of the decals after talking with her friend Heather, a nurse. “I don’t want to think about poison going into my system,” Marsha shared. “Then why don’t you just imagine that the chemo as light and love,” Heather suggested.
Marsha’s nurses at the infusion center joined in on the fun. “A little more Vitality, Marsha?” they’d ask. “Here’s today’s Sunshine.” Marsha began printing labels for her new friends in the neighboring chairs so that they could receive an infusion of positive messaging with their treatment too. Even the grumpy old man across the room decided that joining the fun was better than being grumpy!
Marsha felt a strong sense of obligation to share what she had found to be so useful for herself and her new-found friends at the infusion center. In early 2015, Marsha made the decision she never thought she’d make—to launch a Kickstarter campaign to start her own business, DhRemo Therapy!
At the one year anniversary of remission, Marsh announced to her personal Facebook network the decals were ready to order. She was shocked to receive 22 orders the first day! That was two years ago, and although Marsha still has her day job, she has now sold labels in forty states and four countries! Marsha has even designed kits for pediatric hospitals to purchase kid-oriented decals in bulk. Young patients can select the decal from a beautiful box that most resonates with them.
Congratulations to Marsha for believing that patients can not only make it through treatment but can actually use that time to connect, to reflect, and to come out a better, stronger person. Learn more about how Marsha followed her heart to bring mindful and positive perspective to cancer treatment here
Sheri Sobrato Brisson is a brain tumor survivor who discovered the importance of self-reflection during her recovery. From her personal illness experience and a dozen years supporting families and children with serious illness, her life’s philanthropic mission is to empower families and children facing serious illness. She has started and facilitated support groups for children with illness and their families for over twenty years with organizations such as the American Cancer Society, National Brain Tumor Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and Packard Children’s Hospital. She has served as Board Member for many children’s health nonprofit organizations including American Cancer Society San Jose, UCSF/Mt. Zion Auxiliary, Creighton Health Institute, and Okizu Foundation. Brisson received her master’s degree in counseling from Santa Clara University and her undergraduate degree in human biology from Stanford University.
Read more about Sheri at https://diggingdeep.org