This article first ran on 5/07/09. It is well worth rerunning at the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a reminder that breast cancer is pervasive and needs to be eradicated. It is also a testament to the human spirit. Meet Willie Zuniga, an awe-inspiring woman who deals with the trials and tribulations of her own illness by helping to raise the spirits of other cancer patients.
I first began making jewelry during a long illness, and what began as a means of keeping busy soon became a passion. I returned to work briefly, but in 2003 my recurring illness forced me to leave my job permanently. This was one of the most difficult times of my life…I couldn’t imagine how I would remain a productive, useful person without working, let alone learn to live with the results of the surgeries and treatments that were required.
During this time, I came across AccessoriesSusan.com, a website that featured Victorian-style jewelry components. There I found a whole new world – one filled with photographs of Susan’s creations, design ideas and lesson plans, all using the most beautiful products imaginable. (Lesson plans and photos can now be found at vintagejewelrysupplies.com, her beautiful new site.)
I immersed myself whole-heartedly into learning to design with these beautiful filigrees and jewels. Although I was still very sick, this process shifted the focus away from my seemingly hopeless health problems and onto the timeless beauty found in this avenue of design.
During my day-long hospital treatments, I would often bring along a piece of jewelry on which to work. This sparked an interest from some of the other patients, and “Angels in the Parlour“ was born. Armed with extra supplies and tools, I began to share what I knew, and soon we had a small group of budding designers … all very sick, but each changing what might have been a terribly dismal time.
As a result, I have formed many wonderful friendships, and most cherished of these is that with Susan Street, the owner of AccessoriesSusan.com. Susan continues to give freely of her time, experience and resources, and truly makes the Angels project possible by maintaining a high standard of quality and variety in her products. Even a beginner can make something extraordinary!
I offer an heirloom-quality selection of vintage-style jewelry, reminiscent of the Victorian and Renaissance eras, in Morning Glory Designs. Each piece is hand-crafted with exceptional care, in the hope that it will be cherished for generations.
I hope you’ll take a moment to look through our Angels in the Parlour category. One hundred percent of your purchases from this section will be used to buy supplies for our project, and whenever possible, we’ll feature items made by the patients themselves as well. Although my hospital visits are just once every three weeks at this time, I additionally hold informal jewelry-making “classes” in my home, and no patient is ever asked to pay any dues or fees.
I find the greatest joy in the company of these courageous ladies; they are truly amazing women! Amidst their shared joys and sorrows, they create and dream and laugh…all while fighting the greatest battle of their lives. My eternal thanks to these “angels,” for it is through them that I have found a happier and more productive, useful life than I ever dreamed could be possible. I didn’t consciously plan it…it just took on a life of its own! My only explanation is that God is behind it, and I will always be grateful that I am allowed to be a a part of it.