Nique-Wear and Breast Cancer & Nique, Inc.
My journey started in May of 2013. It was just before Mother’s Day when I received the news of my second diagnosis of breast cancer. It came back with a vengeance as a small, hard lump on one of the scar lines under my left arm. Each time cancer comes back, it comes back more aggressive than the first time, so my treatment team at Dana Faber developed my treatment plan, which would consist of 16 weeks of chemotherapy and 33 treatments of radiation to my left chest wall. This is where Nique-wear was born, as a blog called “Breast Cancer & Me”. All that I intended to do was to share my emotions and physical changes of the diagnosis. Then through my page I met Marie Hendrickson, a breast cancer survivor. We were friends online for a year before we met in person, and it was a bond that I cannot even put into words.
Marie started inviting me to breast cancer events in which I met more survivors, patients, friends, and Todd Ellison from the American Cancer Society, who is also a survivor. It’s amazing how you start to develop a cancer family, and sometimes those bonds become deeper than your own blood relations.
Marie invited me to be a part of a breast cancer fashion show in East Greenwich, RI put on by the Pink Party in 2014 in which I attended and was a part of. All the women where breast cancer survivors, and one was a cancer survivor of another type. We all shared this connection that teaches you to see life in such a different way, understanding the simplicity of what is important, what should be valued in this thing we call life. It was here at the fashion show that I met Sarah B. Hayes and Vic Pichette who were instrumental in the next part of my journey. Sarah passed away shortly after the fashion show and visiting her at Phillip Hulitar gave me the passion to start a 501(c)3 in her memory to assist others with alternative therapy. You see, Sarah’s horse came to visit her at the hospital, comforting her through her end of life journey, showing me that all therapies work.
Vic Pichette had a company at the time called the ICE Agency and requested a time to meet with me. I shared with him a brief synopsis of my story and he gave me his business card and soon we had the time to meet in person and expand. This is when I was introduced to Noel P. Roby, who was in partnership with the ICE Agency. Vic was also a cancer survivor. He understood first hand the world of emotions and physical changes that are the reality of the disease. We talked, we laughed, I cried and then the idea of Nique-Wear was created. The name had to be changed because a woman had already wrote a book called “Breast Cancer & Me”.
We started an active wear line, we produced some video production with the assistance of Jason Ruel, Johnny Villella, and Walt Buteau. I had never imagined that my story would touch so many other people out there who in one way or another were touched by cancer. Through all of it, my fiancé was by my side, Robert McCarthy.
With the assistance of Chapman Dickerson, owner Dickerson Farms, LLC I began to spread awareness to local communities on the benefits of alternative treatment, and of the most controversial was my use of cannabis in my treatment plan. Education became the key to providing information to others on the potential benefits to medical care. This also ignited my passion to learn as much as I could, becoming a member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, attending the Patients Out of Time Conference, 2015 in West Palm Beach Florida, obtaining my Certificate in Cannabis Nursing and meeting Ann Fonfa from The Annie Appleseed Project which is a wealth of information on alternative therapy in cancer treatments.
I started to get involved in fundraising for Avon39 and local cancer patients and this was the initiation of Breast Cancer & Nique, Inc. a 501c(3) established to assist cancer patients with financial assistance for alternative treatment.
Yesterday I attended a seminar “How to ask for Money”: An Experiential Workshop that I was introduced to by my attorney Linnea Michel, Esq. I learned of the business of fundraising and the competitive world of the non-profit community. As I sat and tried to absorb as much as I could I began to understand the mission more as a business woman and not as a nurse and a two time cancer survivor. Those two descriptions, although real, add a vision of vulnerability to what you do. For the first time I embraced my journey as a business woman prepared to face the challenges in helping others.
Prior to this, my fundraising efforts to some were rewarded with negativity and character degrading to the point that I almost walked away from my dream of helping others. I never had any fundraisers throughout my battles with cancer. I had medical co-pays, parking fees, transportation expenses, clothing expenses now that I had lost a breast and was bald. I fortunately had the assistance of my mom for a part of it, but I lost my home, my job, and my direction. My goal when I started, was simply to help others so they did not have to go through the financial difficulties when faced with cancer all alone as I did.
Nique-Wear lost $15,000 last year. My accountant Luis Pacheco, owner of Accounting Portfolios, Inc. sat with me as we were filing my taxes and said, “When are you going to call it quits, you should have a plan”. I responded by saying, “Luis I have a new graphic designer Justin Estrella, owner of Just Your Way. I can’t give up now.” I have been working with the New England Veterans Alliance and we have a fundraiser scheduled for Veteran’s Day at The Cove in Fall River on November 11, 2016. BeatCancer.org has partnered up with us to assist with cancer education and CannaCare Docs has partnered up with us to help patients obtain their medical marijuana card legally and safely. CBD Punch, a pure CBD product has also partnered with Nique-Wear which is a product sold exclusively in dispensaries at this time.
June 1, 2016 I will start as an instructor at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis providing education on the endocannabinoid system and I have begun working closely with the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance with Nicole Snow in providing education to seniors and their options on cannabis as medicine. I have made a difference in the lives of others, and I continue to work the night shift as a nurse to assist others in this life changing disease.
“The past should be the past. It can destroy the future. Live life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” – Author Unknown