My name is Renate. I am 45 year old woman, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, ouma, friend and dog mommy.
Five years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. I underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiotherapy and three breast reconstructions, among other things. My last big operation just over a year ago ended in sepsis which required further surgery. A massive blood clot and multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms followed. So basically, I very nearly died three times over the past five years.
This sort of cancer never quite leaves you, and I am on a 10-year treatment plan - which does throw regular new challenges at me.
But I do consider myself to be in recovery. Recovery is a time in one's life when you close the door on the past, make some firm decisions about the future, and go for it with everything you have.
I mean, I've changed jobs, moved away from the city, presented at conferences, changed my wardrobe, bought a house, learnt to snorkel... all since completing my primary cancer treatments.
I'm moving towards what really matters to me. That should include being creative and doing meaningful work.
Which brings me to Mak:Mind - my idea for a therapeutic creative experience for people in recovery. That could be recovery from any sort of trauma - a life-threatening illness, addiction, abuse, crime, attempted suicide, an accident... Mak:Mind will be for anyone who has been through the mill and came out resolute to live a good new life.
I am fundraising to trial Mak:Mind in partnership with Maggie's Centres. Maggie's generously supported me through the shock of my diagnosis, facing treatments, the disappointments when things didn't work, the debilitating side effects, feeling crap and ugly, and coming out the other end of curative treatments a bit punch-drunk. Alongside Maggie's Centres, I hope to gather a group of people recovering from cancer and who - like myself - have exciting plans for their new life ahead, who want to focus on what matters to them, and live to their full potential.
At the Mak:Mind workshop we will share stories and celebrate life, while engaging in a very accessible and therapeutic craft. Each participant will design and make their very own unique transitional object - a sterling silver pendant or bead set with a little diamond to symbolise the significance of the moment. This little "amulet" can be worn around their neck or wrist to remind them of their intentions, so they can reach out and touch it when the going gets tough. Being a precious piece of jewellery, it could be passed down for generations, along with a story of incredible resilience and transformation.
If I manage to raise enough money, we hope to host a celebratory exhibition showcasing everyone's precious creations alongside their individual stories and dreams. This would be a great opportunity for you, my wonderful supporters, to witness the outcomes of this trial project, and meet some of the people who benefited from your donation. So, if together we manage it, all supporters of this project will be invited to the exhibition. It will be a celebration for all of us!
Your contributions here will support further Mak:Mind workshops beyond the trial one, as some money will go towards capital purchases like specialist tools and audio-visual equipment for exhibitions.
Why Mak:Mind, why me and why now?
For some time now I contemplated the reason why I am on earth. I believe we are here for a reason. I want to fulfil my purpose and do meaningful work. I dreamt up Mak:Mind almost 10 years ago - long before my cancer diagnosis. My recent medical challenges shook me awake and what used to be a nagging in the background now is a matter of urgency. Somewhat ironically, Mak:Mind is about supporting the "rebirth" of people in recovery, and it really feels like a culmination of my creative gifts and life experiences, which brings me to believe that this indeed is my purpose. I HAVE TO DO THIS.
What qualifies me to do this?
- I have a recent lived experience of cancer and recovery.
- I am a qualified, experienced and award-winning fine jeweller.
- I am a seasoned creative facilitator and teacher.
- I am a qualified and experienced project, programme and production manager.
- My approach is informed by my work in social care, and mindfulness practice.
- I have previously worked in local government finance roles and have the skills and experience to manage funds responsibly.
- See my previous fundraiser on here for proof of my accountability towards donors and beneficiaries.
- For your peace of mind, I am a member of both the National Association of Jewellers (previously BJA) and the Guild of Jewellery Designers. This means I adhere to strict quality and ethical standards in the sector.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind support. I look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you!