Former cancer patient pays back with bracelets |

Former cancer patient pays back with bracelets

Breast cancer survivor Carol Hauswirth was so enamored with the care she got at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, she felt compelled to act.

“I wanted to become a volunteer because they were fabulous and I didn’t want it to end,” said the 72-year-old Alta Sierra resident. “I wanted to pay back.”

She has done that in grand fashion, by starting a Cancer Awareness Bracelet drive that has sold 1,500 units over the last 18 months, netting the Cancer Center $18,000 in the process. The bracelets are made with sterling silver beads and others that don’t look like costume jewelry, befitting their $20 price tag.

“We wanted to make them classy,” Hauswirth said. “We could make them cheaper, but you could go out for an evening wearing one if you wanted.”

The “we” Hauswirth refers to is the seven other volunteers at the center, assorted neighbors and friends who help her string the bracelets together.

One of the bracelet builders is Lori Walsh, one of Hauswirth’s neighbors and an ovarian cancer survivor.

“Our family has been touched by cancer, my husband and I lost our fathers to multiple myelomas, so we know the impact cancer has,” Walsh said. “I’d made jewelry, so I was interested in Carol’s project and it’s just become more and more popular.”

The idea came from another neighbor of Hauswirths, who bought her a Cancer Awareness Bracelet through a Colorado bank. She took the idea, started making the bracelets with Cancer Center Nurse Sue Vogt, and sales increased from there.

“My friend back East got them for Christmas presents for her chemo nurses,” said Hauswirth, who lived in Queens and Long Island, N.Y. before moving to Nevada County in 1988 to retire. Things went well until a routine checkup at the Grass Valley hospital in March 2002.

“Thank God for mammography because that’s where they caught it,” Hauswirth said of her breast cancer. “I couldn’t even feel it, it was the size of a pea, I was lucky,” because they caught it early.

Now Hauswirth figures helping the center is the least she can do.

“We talk with the patients and interact with them and our support carries through to caregivers too, sometimes even more so,” Hauswirth said.

“It’s support, we’re firm believers that you shouldn’t be doing this alone.”

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail or call 477-4237.

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