I'm so humbled and excited to share that CancerWellness.com welcomed me for an interview to share my story behind starting Because Love, who inspired me and why I continue to create gifts that spread compassion.
Here's a snippet from the interview:
"For Arona Martin, Because Love began as a way to connect with and bring comfort to her best friend when she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. But the products, which include a customizable journal, a cozy knit nap blanket, and bejeweled message tags, quickly found fans among other cancer patients and their supporters who craved a different way to show they care.
'It helps. It gives someone something to do and something to gift when they don’t know what to say,” Martin says. “Without necessarily having to have that difficult conversation, they can still let the other person know that they love them.'
In this exclusive interview, Martin shares her journey from event designer to product designer, and why Because Love is a game changer in the cancer support community.
Q: What’s your story?
Several years ago, my best friend got diagnosed out the gate with stage IV lung cancer. She was 31 years old. It was devastating, and it was a shock. She was a nutritionist. She had her own business and was in great shape. There were no signs [except for] a tiny, tiny lump in her neck. She went to the doctor and they said, “You have stage IV cancer. We need to start chemo tomorrow. Start getting your end-of-life plans in place.” It was horrible.
I just felt helpless as her friend and thought: How is she going to go through this? I have a little bit of an art therapy background. I bought her a blank journal from Anthropologie and I hand-lettered different pages for her: pages to get your anger out, exercises for if you’re feeling scared, doodly fun pages, joke pages.
I went around to a bunch of people who knew her and strangers and asked them to write inspirational notes, which was weird but awesome. I [also] gave her an Anthropologie blanket [inscribed with] inspirational bible verses, quotes, and funny jokes, [as if you were] signing a cast.
She went down to M.D. Anderson (at the University of Texas) to find the right doctor. Before she left, I gave her [the journal and blanket] and she loved them. While sitting in the waiting room, women would ask her where she got that book. She had all these stories [from people with] all different ranges and stages of cancer. My heart was just bleeding for these people. I had to make these journals, so I just started making them, and sending them down. I didn’t really know the end user. I made it directly for her, but I didn’t know who she was giving them to.
Number one, it was super cathartic for me. Number two, as the friend or family or loved one, [we don’t know] how to handle it when someone we love gets cancer. It feels like we’re getting cancer, too, if I’m honest. She went through remission for about a year, but after about 18 months, my friend passed away. It was devastating.
Q: What was the moment you understood this idea was pretty big?
When I was making the first one, I felt like there was something there. It was so powerful for me to write the pages and fill in all this stuff and put my heart into this. On a super-religious level, I felt that God said this is something special. That’s how I felt, [but] I kind of brushed it off because we have these feelings, but then life gets in the way, so you ignore it. When I started making them for other people, [I realized] other people want this and this is a gift." - Arona Martin & CancerWellness.com
I want to give Cancer Wellness a BIG hug for featuring my story behind Because Love with their community of amazing humans!
P.S. Are you a supporter of a loved one with cancer? Join my private support community HERE.
STILL LOOKING FOR A GIFT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE BATTLING CANCER? SHOP