Postscript to the BRAvo article in the November edition

The November edition of The Smithfield Times published a story “Linda Mallory and friends knit comfort for women after mastectomy” about BRAvoRI, a volunteer-based organization that knits breasts prostheses, free of charge, for breast cancer survivors. Brittni Henderson reported and wrote the article and Albert Tavakalov shot the photographs. The story apparently has had an impact, according the group’s leader Linda Mallory of Smithfield. Linda forwarded two emails to Publisher John J. Tassoni Jr. and to Brittni in the ensuing weeks to share the impact of that article with us and we wish to share those emails with our readers:

The first email:

“Thank you both so very much for such a wonderful article. I wanted to share some of our feedback with you both. In the very first week of your publication in less than 3 days we made 4 women very happy.

“One of the recipients from last week made a special point to stop by this past Monday’s workshop to thank everyone for all their dedication in making these prostheses. She took the time to share her very personal story with all of us. Last week I had another 5 reach out to us and a local group of knitters is very excited to start knitting for us – . I meet with the women at the Villages (The Village at Waterman Lake, Greenville) this Saturday to help them get started.

“Women and Infants (Hospital) is also discussing keeping a supply on hand and someone who works directly with the top executives of another major health center saw the article, stopped by the studio to see what we are doing for herself – donated some supplies and plans to make sure the word gets out to the appropriate treatment centers.

“Your kindness has already touched so many lives – right here in town.

“Again, it all just continues to amaze me how this simple solution brings so much comfort and joy to those in need.

“I wanted you to share in the joy that you have provided to those that have reached out for a prostheses after reading the lovely article by Brittini.

“Please also thank the photographer whom I did not get the opportunity to meet as I was ill at the time but let him know the ladies advised he did a fantastic job and everyone is so very pleased.

On behalf of all the dedicated volunteers and recipients – Thank You for providing such a wonderful public service; surely, this is what a Community is truly all about!”

The second email:

“I hope you don’t mind I have to share 1 more story During a visit to show a group of women how to knit… I noticed a woman watching us. I approached and asked if there was anything we could do for her… I had always been told survivors were entitled to 6 mastectomy bras a year … but she whispered that they are no longer covered and she was not eligible (insurance wise) for reconstruction and she was not eligible for a mastectomy bra… after reading the article in The Smithfield Times she thought perhaps we could help her.

“I will always remember her eyes… I can often forget a face but when you see eyes that are needy – the face becomes less important. I had 2 prostheses (available) … that just happened to be exactly the size she needed. I always try to measure my day by the good things that happened and not give notice to disappointments that do creep up on us; but like the tide they come and go. Seeing this woman – shy, afraid to ask for help, and whispering her needs only to see her walk away with a huge smile … will stay with me for years to come.

Perhaps this brings some reward to both of you for taking the time and thought into promoting such a worthy cause – it is because of folks like you that this woman had the courage and now the dignity to live a more comfortable life and still not have to share her secret. Think about what you did to make this woman feel good about herself again.

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