By: Judy Burdell | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2014
Jane and Tara created AngelHeart, a non-profit organization that helps cancer patients feel beautiful again.
Instead of allowing cancer to define or limit her, one local cancer survivor has chosen to give the gift of hope to others going through cancer treatment.
Jane Niemeyer was diagnosed with breast cancer last September. In the next three months, she had a lumpectomy, reconstruction and completed six and a half weeks of radiation in late December. Despite the anxiety, stress, despair and the emotional roller coaster ride that accompanies a cancer diagnosis, she hasn’t lost hope. Five months after discovering the lump in her breast, Jane started sharing her gift of hope with other cancer patients.
Jane contacted Tara, an X-ray technician who worked where Jane had her yearly mammograms. “I knew Tara would want to know about my diagnosis.” During that call, she learned that Tara was scheduled for a breast biopsy the next day. The following week, Tara received her diagnosis of breast cancer. Both Jane and Tara believe that God brought them together, and they agreed they would stay with each other through the journey. And so AngelHeart was born.
When Jane, a former makeup artist, met Tara at the Tulsa Cancer Institute (www.tciok.org) for her first chemotherapy treatment, she announced, “I’m going to make your feel beautiful!” She helped Tara relax by massaging her hand and arm and applied face makeup. This routine has continued weekly during what Tara calls “their” chemo treatments.
One of the oncology nurses observed Jane giving Tara the gifts of friendship, patience and comforting distraction. Realizing that other patients would benefit from Jane’s healing touch, she introduced Jane to Infusion Supervisor Ruth Dunn. Ruth obtained approval for Jane to share these gifts with other patients. Nurse Julie Thomas said, “We are so honored and privileged to have Jane come. She brings a bright smile and encouragement to our patients.”
When asked why she chooses to spend time with people who are a constant reminder of her own recent experience, Jane shared a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Do not avoid contact with suffering. Find ways to be with those who are suffering including personal contact and visits.” Those words had a huge impact on Jane. She believes, “All cancer patients have a story that needs to be heard. It comforts them to talk to someone who knows what they’re going through.” She feels honored to be able to spend time with such amazing, inspiring people.
Jane uses her 15 years of experience as a makeup artist to help the patients “feel beautiful while they are fighting.” Jane says her faith has never been stronger. She continues to fight her cancer battle while forming a non-profit organization called AngelHeart. She hopes to raise funds that will help defray the cost of her commute from Collinsville, enabling her to continue sharing her gifts. The fact that it helps her to wage her own private battle is a bonus.
Join Jane and other Green Country cancer survivors as they celebrate, remember and fight back at the Owasso/Collinsville Relay For Life at 6 p.m. on May 7, 2014 at the Owasso High School.
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