Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank you my dear friends for "Helping Joyce"




Virtual Strangers Offer Surprise Support to Team Member with Cancer
August 23, 2009 By Coco Watkin





When we hear about someone else’s devastating news, our heart aches for them. Yet, often we quickly come to the frustrating conclusion that, because we don’t know them personally or because they live too far away, there is nothing we can do. Not so, for members of the Etsy Twitter Team (ETT). When they discovered that fellow team member, Joyce Richards, had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, they did something about it.

Joyce Richards, of Wild Orchid’s Beads of Glass and a Florida resident, began selling her artwork on Etsy two years ago. Early in 2009 she joined the ETT. During a recent phone interview, Joyce said, “I was immediately drawn in by this group of artists. They were so welcoming and willing to help each other.” She felt compelled to promote her fellow teammates by blogging, emailing, and posting on Twitter, but she did not serve in a leadership role for the group.
In May, Joyce developed a cough, which was originally diagnosed and treated as pneumonia, but it continued to get worse. By July she was hospitalized for two weeks, and the doctors began running tests. On July 25th, her doctor told her that she had advanced stage IIIB lung cancer and probably only 1-2 months to live.
Not willing to accept that, Harvey, her husband of 6 years, convinced her to seek a second opinion, which included more testing and a MRI. On August 11th, Joyce received the news that she also had brain tumors, and two days later she began a 15 day regimen of whole brain radiation. Two weeks after her radiation treatments terminates, Chemo treatment for the cancer in her lungs begins.
Just before being admitted, Joyce let her fellow teammates know that she wouldn’t be participating in the group's activities while she was in the hospital. A few weeks later, Vickie, of In My Head Studios, and Kristen of FirebirdHouse Designs, co- leaders of ETT emailed the membership to see if anyone had heard from Joyce. Joyce replied thanking them for their concern and telling them that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Shortly after that, Vickie found out that the cancer had spread to Joyce’s brain.

When the members of ETT were given the devastating news about their fellow artist, many hearts sank. Many wondered if there was anything they could do, but they didn’t wonder for long. Jen, of Jenco13, had recently read an article about Etsy artists that plan buying sprees in unsuspecting shops as a way to pay it forward. She contacted Vickie and Kristin, who instantly agreed it was a great idea and left the planning and execution in Jen’s hands.
Normally the ETT communicates with each other through discussion threads in their Google Group Forum, but Jen thought secrecy was key. She sent out an email to each ETT member (except Joyce) explaining the idea and asking for their help in buying out Joyce’s store on Aug 16th as a way to help with her medical bills. The response was overwhelming with 31 sales attributed to this effort so far.


One of Joyce’s teammates, Sandi, of Handmade By Sandi, who bought a pair of earrings said, “I already knew that Joyce was having a life changing ordeal, and having been through one myself, I wanted to help in any way that I could. So I was excited when Jen came up with this idea.” Sandi only wishes that there had been more time to get the word out to people beyond the ETT.
When asked what was the best part of participating in this “sneak attack” on Joyce’s shop, Sandy, of Punky Jane, exclaimed, “Being able to make a difference even though I'm 3000+ miles away!” She also proudly added, “I think this is a perfect example of what the Etsy community can do when we get together, and by the way, there are still beautiful items in Joyce's shop--**wink**”.
Sheridan, of Joslin Jewels, didn’t think twice. “I’m in!” was her first reaction to hearing about the plan to secretly buy out Joyce’s shop. Even though Sheridan didn’t know Joyce personally, she wanted to at least boost her spirits a little, citing that she believes, “A positive attitude is incredibly important to recovery from illness.” She went on to inform me, “In addition to the sneak attack, a catastrophic illness account was set up on PayPal for Joyce and our team is using the power of social media to spread the word just like we do for each other's shops and team sales events. ”
Several Etsy artisans are now running promotions in their own shops where some or all of the proceeds from their sales will be donated to help Joyce with her medical bills. In her article entitled, “Please Help A Fellow Etsian!”, Sandy, of Punky Jane, gives credit to Katy, of South Paw Studios, for initiating this idea. Katy’s family has been touched by cancer numerous times and can relate to Joyce’s plight. She said, “Medical bills really should be the least of their concerns right now, so that is where the thought of the donation from my Etsy shop came in.” (For a list of shops go to Sandy’s blog article.)
If you’d like to join the ETT in supporting Joyce and her husband during their fight against her cancer, there are several ways you can help. The quickest and most direct way is by making a PayPal donation directly to Joyce. To do that, simply log on to PayPal and send your payment to this email address: joycercatastrophicillnessaccount[at]comcast.net (Remember to replace the [at] with @).
You can also help by purchasing something from Joyce’s Shop or from one of the artists that are donating a percentage of their sales to her medical fund. Sentiments and encouraging words can be sent to Joyce by contacting her through her Etsy Shop. Lastly, anything you can do to help spread the word by blogging, tweeting, and using social media sites will be greatly appreciated.
Joyce told me that what the ETT team did for her goes way beyond the monetary help. When she first received the diagnosis, she cried and fell apart. The worst part for her was the initial shock and hopelessness of the first few days. “I felt like I was falling into a pit and ready to die, but what these wonderful strangers did filled me with such love, gratitude, and an immediate belief that God was right here with me. And, it made me want to fight to live.”
Joyce is appreciative of every kindness shown her, and is especially grateful for the unwavering support of her husband, a veteran plagued with medical issues of his own. Harvey’s inner strength and positive outlook continue to play an essential role in lifting her spirits. Joyce recommends the book, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, to anyone who reads this article as resource for learning to stay focused on the here and now, free from past negativity and fear of the future. Joyce began painting when she was 20, and now at 64 says her favorite medium is glass and making glass beads because it is a joint effort she shares with Harvey.
Lungevity.org is an online support group that Joyce has joined, and should you want to follow her ongoing saga, you can go to her profile page and click on “find all posts by joyrich”.
Overwhelmed by the generosity of her fellow teammates and other strangers, Joyce now feels both unlucky and lucky at the same time. “I’m just happy I lived long enough to realize that people are much better than I ever dreamed possible. The world felt like strangers, and then ETT came forward and restored my faith in mankind. Now, sometimes when I cry, I cry for joy all because virtual strangers showered me with their support.”

Photo courtesy:Top left: Sandy of Punky JaneMiddle Right: Joyce Richards of Wild Orchid’s Beads of GlassMiddle Left: Joyce Richards of Wild Orchid’s Beads of Glass Bottom: Right: Joyce Richards of Wild Orchid’s Beads of Glass
Coco Watkin is a self-taught artisan offering heirloom quality stained glass and hand painted folk art collectibles as unique gifts and home decor on Etsy and Artfire. Besides being a columnist for HMN.

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