In the midst of the Hand in Glove build, I have been slightly sidelined by two projects – both unintentional. Each has resulted in construction of a slightly different variety from what we are undertaking at Hand in Glove. And yet both will always be forever linked in my mind to our physical build there.
The first was prompted by the heartbreaking shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012. From the moment I heard about this incomprehensible situation, I knew I wanted to do something, no matter how small, to try to bring a little happiness to the community. Through the nonprofit I started two years ago with like-minded individuals , MeetUP for Change, we worked with Newtown officials to develop an event that instinctively “felt right.” As an organization that performs “random acts of volunteerism,” the possibilities were truly endless.
What was the connector between this situation and the work we had performed previously following natural disasters? The message that resonated and provided that linkage between this and other MUFC activities in in the past was a simple one: life is precious.
We realized at that moment that if we could create a movement that shared this message with those living in communities in crisis or need that this could potentially resonate with them and bring a little love, hope and happiness. A “communal hug” if you will.
So a campaign was developed with the LIP Life Is Precious message. Whenever someone made or makes a donation to MeetUP for Change of $30, we take a “get one, give one” approach. They receive a stylish LIP Life Is Precious shirt or hat. In exchange, we would deliver a LIP Life Is Precious shirt to members of a community in crisis or need.
We also solicited cupcake shops and bakeries, large and small, to donate sweet treats, art supplies and small gifts we could share with Sandy Hook Elementary on Valentine’s Day at a cupcake “heartwarmer” event. In a scant six weeks, we had secured donations of over 2,000 yummy cupcakes, cookies and candies that we shared with 500 SHES children, parents and staff. Volunteers from throughout Newtown and Connecticut, and as far away as Alabama and Boston, came together to create an afternoon that many in the crowd proclaimed was “exactly what we needed.”
The meaning and the message behind the LIP Life Is Precious shirts also touched their hearts in the way we had hoped it would.
The second construction project involves a little reconstruction to my actual physical being. About two weeks prior to the Newtown trip, I noticed a previously nonexistent bump on the side of my nose. Not entirely past the occasional acne outbreak, I initially assumed it was the worst blocked pore ever. When no amount of slathering with heavy duty zit-busting cream did the trick, I tried to get in to see my dermatologist between meetings. Not finding a mutually convenient time, the week came and went.
Over the course of the weekend, I visited my aesthetician to get my eyebrows waxed and asked about a facial (she thought it was a bug bite), I stopped by a “doc in the box” (a “staph infection” he proclaimed) and just generally fretted about this less than perfect aberration on my already less than perfect face.
By the time the following week rolled around and my dermatologist and I could actually agree on a time, the prognosis was swift and nearly definitive. I had what sounded like one of the fraternities from my son’s days at UA – KA – but a KA that was much more sinister than a bunch of drunken young men. In this case, KA stood for keratoacanthoma. It was a form of squamous cell carcinoma that needed to be biopsied and then dealt with quickly and promptly, I was told.
With our little “heartwarmer” planned for Newtown, I asked if it was going to be a problem to wait the two weeks until I returned. No, I was generally assured, this would not be an issue. The good news was that this type of tumor is almost always benign and does not travel (meaning it would not move on to other parts of my body and then require more radical treatments like chemotherapy or radiation).
What no one could have expected was the rapid growth that would occur between the biopsy and the actually Mohs surgery to remove the tumor. I had been warned it was an aggressive tumor (heavens, it had popped up literally overnight) but that the biopsy that removed most of the superficial growth would likely keep it at bay until it could be properly removed. In my case, this didn’t really work and over the two weeks before they could perform the surgery it came back bigger than before.
Tomorrow is the next step in the reconstruction of my nose/face. Even though I am both terrified and relieved, I have a new mantra I am repeating as I approach this next chapter: LIP Life Is Precious.
And onward and upward to the completion of Hand in Glove!