An estimated 805,600 women will be diagnosed with some sort of cancer this year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. And 79,560 of them, almost 10 percent, will be in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing the severity of these numbers, Allderdice teacher Julie Farber and her top jewelry students took matters into their own hands and did something special.
In partnership with Pittsburgh-based website Cancer Be Glammed, groups of students were recently paired with women coping with cancer in order to craft pieces of jewelry for them. From bracelets and bangles, Farber’s class spent an entire school day hammering away to create unique masterpieces.
Then on May 4, close to 100 people gathered at the Summerset at Frick Park Community Center as 12 of the 18 total women involved, along with their families, were given their personalized accessories by the students.
“It blew them away,” said Lisa Lurie, one of the Cancer Be Glammed co-founders. “To have something custom made like that was incredible.”
Lurie, along with the late Ellen Weiss Kander, launched the website in 2010 to prepare women for the side effects of cancer surgery and treatment, and to provide easy access to recovery products and style solutions. Lurie’s daughter, Michelle, a senior at Allderdice, is one of Farber’s students.
“It went much better than I ever could have expected,” said Michelle Lurie. “Our jewelry brought our woman to tears and she brought us to tears. It was a beautiful event.”
Farber approached Lisa Lurie about the idea over the summer, wanting to incorporate her class with a day of giving. Through Gilda’s Club and Cancer Caring Center, they were able to connect with women who had gone through, or were going through the disease.
Once the students were divided into groups, they were put in contact with one of the women to ask their preferences as far as materials, colors and size. Telephone conversations lasted up to half an hour.
From there, groups immediately went to work, soldering and slicing various metals and stones. Seeing the potential of the impact each piece would have on its recipient, Farber removed the budget to provide the groups with all the materials they needed to perfect their work.
Farber made a pair of earrings for Lurie in honor of the anniversary of her five-year survival from breast cancer.
“It was truly amazing, and the more stories I hear, the more I feel the groups were perfectly matched,” said Farber, who will be going into her 11th year at Allderdice. “It was definitely a day to remember. There’s no doubt we’ll do it again next year.”
(Jesse Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)