Published on February 15, 2018
In the summer of 2002, I was diagnosed with a “deep and troublesome” melanoma. For the next 2 years, until the spring of 2004, I had surgery, radiation, and interferon for a year. In 2004, they declared NED. A relief to be sure!
That left me free to focus more on my youngest sister, Claire, who in the winter of 2003, at the age of 41, had been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. Despite dramatic surgery, she harbored cancer in her liver and other organs throughout her body. She was 41, had lived in California for the past 10 years, was the mother of a 6-year-old daughter, had a fabulous career, and was divorced.
Being the oldest daughter of a mostly Irish-Catholic family of five children from the Boston area, and being 12 years older than Claire, she was MY responsibility. She had been diagnosed with CANCER, because I was not keeping a good enough eye on her. My younger sister, Patty, who lived in Georgia with her own family felt the same way.
Claire had told us that she had three goals in her life: she wanted a daughter (done), she wanted her own home (not done), and she wanted her own business (not done). She has a fabulous daughter who she was devoted to, and vice versa; her own home was impossible due to the divorce; but owning her own business? THAT was something Patty and I knew how to start. Time was not on our side, but all three of us jumped in to get this party started!
Due to all three of our experiences with cancer and all the treatments it entails and how inhuman it can feel, and after much conversation, we decided that it was our duty as Spirited Sisters, which we were on many levels, to try and enhance the environment in which people are asked to heal and recover.
Sitting in hospital waiting areas for so many reasons while being treated or while waiting for friends or family to be treated, gave us ideas how we could accomplish that goal—none more deserving than re-designing the dreaded hospital gown!
With fire in our guts to get this final clothing product decision up and running, we named our product, the Original Healing Threads. Having seen and experienced firsthand the lack of dignity, modesty and respect afforded patients in all areas of a hospital, and the incredible lack of INCLUSION in discussions of treatments and options, we were PASSIONATE to give people encouragement to question, research, to get second and third opinions, and to become part of their own cancer journey! To participate actively in their healing and recovery—and how better to do that than to question the usefulness in that vilest of all clothing, the horrid HOSPITAL GOWN? We designed shirts and pants for men and women. Our patented clothing has break-away parts and pieces that can be pulled apart to expose ONLY the parts that NEED to be exposed and no others. Bringing or wearing your own personal patient apparel to a medical appointment is empowering, is encouraging, and demonstrates that the patient is willing and able and determined to be PART of the process.
By January 2006, we had product on the shelves, we had our e-commerce website up and ready to go, we had a warehouse and small office, and were ready to sell our Healing Threads to patients and to people who wanted to give them as gifts.
A fashion Public Relations firm in NYC had seen our Healing Threads and begged us to allow them to do our PR for a year—for a very reduced price. This is how we came to be on Boston and NYC TV and radio shows, to be interviewed for a 5-page spread in People magazine, to have a half-page spread in Oprah’s magazine, and to be in so many more publications. We were all thrilled to say the least!
And what of Claire? Well, she got her company. She was VP of Sales and Marketing (her lifetime career specialty) for Spirited Sisters Inc. And she worked diligently as long as she could. Her prognosis of 6-12 months came and went. She endured all sorts of medical treatments and participated with her daughter in group therapy sessions; she did yoga, massage, guided imagery, reiki, prayer, meditation, and all of it helped. Despite everything she tried, however, the cancer prevailed. She transitioned on January 31, 2006. She had outlived her 6-12 prognosis handily. Claire is missed by many, many people, especially her sisters and her daughter, Lilly, for whom one of our gowns is named.
Our Healing Threads has progressed and survived. We now sell to about 20 hospitals in the USA who purchase our shirts and GIVE them to their mastectomy patients. The shirts make the women feel feminine and more like themselves than the hospital gowns. We also customize our Healing Threads for medical organizations, using their facilities’ colors and logos, etc. We also designed three other garments that are on our website. And we continue to sell on our e-commerce site to individuals and their loving friends and family.
Believe. Live. Thrive,
Peg Feodoroff, Co-owner and President
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Your site is AWESOME! Thank you all so much for this incredible resource to families who are in crisis/affected by cancer.