A local woman’s fight with cancer inspires her to help others
At age 32, Christine Smith already had her hands full. A mother of two boys, ages 2 and 3, living in West Seattle, she and her husband enjoyed life’s challenges and looked forward to expanding their family.
But on May 5, 2000, their plans were put on hold when Smith was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma, a highly aggressive form of breast cancer.
Initially, the young mother was overcome with fear that she wouldn’t see her children grow up, and even made her husband promise to remarry.
“It was beyond scary; having two little kids,” said Smith. “I was feeling desperate, it was ugly.”
But her attitude began to turn around when her loved ones demonstrated their love and support in incredible ways. Family members drove her to doctor appointments and helped care for her children. Smith’s husband constantly reminded her to keep fighting.
And then Smith did something incredible. While fighting the greatest battle she had ever dealt with in her personal life, she turned to help others.
It was after her second round of chemotherapy, just two months after being diagnosed, that Smith decided to start a foundation, Northwest Hope and Healing, that would help other women battling breast cancer. While she herself had received wonderful support from her family and friends, Smith knew other women were not so lucky.
She started creating and delivering “healing baskets” filled with comforting items like lavender eye pillows, soft, knit hats, lip balm and nail polish—items she knew first hand would help newly diagnosed patients cope with the effects of chemotherapy.
As the foundation grew, Northwest Hope and Healing also began collecting “donor dollars” which Swedish Medical Center uses for patients that struggle to pay for basic needs like rent and utilities.
“Northwest Hope and Healing is an incredible answer to make impossible situations a bit more feasible,” said Smith. “We are trying to make the burden a little less for someone else.”
Nine years later, Smith’s cancer is in remission and she continues fuel the foundation. With a full time employee that helps gather donations and organize events, Smith spend most of her time with newly diagnosed cancer patients, taking them to doctor’s appointments or holding their hand during chemotherapy.
“You’d be surprised at how many women are going through this alone,” said Smith. “It’s wonderful when women get the support they need. Then our job is done and they get to live their life!”
“Christine is an inspiration to every person she meets,” said Sewell. “She is proof that you can get through a difficult situation and turn it around to a make a real difference in the lives of others.”
The foundation hosts several fundraising events each year, and their seventh annual spring fashion show, “Style ’09: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good” is coming up on April 30. Last year’s show raised $60,000 for the foundation.
Local boutiques Carmilias, Coastal and Ola Salon will be contributing this year.
The event is also attended by local celebrities, professional athletes, radio personalities and a growing group of breast cancer survivors.
“It’s a party!” said Smith. “It’s a feel good event that motivates everyone and spreads the good word of the foundation. It’s inspiring.”
Tickets to the event are $40 and up and can be purchased at the foundation Web site .
For more information about Northwest Hope and Healing contact Shari Sewell at (206) 215-2888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.