Sandy Simpson knows about empowering ways to deal with cancer.
She also knows about shock, fear, not knowing if she would live
- and, during chemotherapy, sometimes feeling so sick that she wasn't
sure she wanted to live.
Sandy called me in January 2003 to join a Healing through Painting
group. She'd had surgery for breast cancer and was about to start
chemotherapy. "I needed support," she later told me. "I
wanted to be with people who knew first hand what I was going through,
but I wasn't the kind of person to sit in a circle for two hours
just talking." A painting support group appealed to her.
For several months Sandy was a regular in the group. She talked
about her feelings, listened, gave and received support, and painted
her heart out. Like everyone else in the group, Sandy's life had
been thoroughly shaken by her cancer diagnosis and treatment. One
thing that shook loose was complacency about leading a life that
wasn't fully satisfying to her. When treatment was over and she
was putting her life back together, Sandy made some changes.
"Having cancer made me realize that every day truly could
be my last. Surviving cancer made me ask the question: Am I really
doing what I want to do with my life?" After treatment
Sandy went back to her job as an office manager, but her heart wasn't
in it. Her heart was with dogs.
While Sandy had been going through treatment, the most empowering
force in her life had been her wonderful dog, Dude. "Dude was
so attached to me that I had to live for him, even when I felt so
sick that I didn't know if I wanted to live for myself," she
says. "And I had to get up everyday to take him for his walk.
Taking him for a walk made me get outside. Getting outside made
me feel better."
Sandy kept her office manager job for the stability it gave to
her life, but evenings and weekends she devoted to her love for
dogs. She took classes and became a dog trainer. Then, after the
umpteenth batch of doggie treats that she baked for Dude and doled
out to her buddies at the dog park, she got the idea of starting
her own business: a dog bakery.
That idea had life to it. Six months later, Sandy quit her office
manager job and was hard at work cleaning and painting a warehouse
in downtown Santa Rosa, readying it to become My Dog Bakery.
Yesterday I went to a pre-opening party at My Dog Bakery. I didn't
go alone; I went with the guy I go almost everywhere with. Rincon.
Half Yellow Lab and half Golden Retriever, Rincon loves parties
and is always ready to offer his paw to shake. He was bound to like
My Dog Bakery because doggie treats are his favorite things in the
whole world. But when he saw the racks of dog toys and the other
canine customers, Rincon realized that this place was the dog equivalent
of "Cheers" and that he wanted us to become regulars.
When we left, we were both carrying purchases. Rincon had a blue
stuffed octopus that squeaks, and I had a "Yellow Dog Club"
Yes, Sandy Simpson knows about empowering ways to deal with cancer.
Sandy will be contributing an object to The Heart of Healing
sculpture soon. I can hardly wait to see what it is. I'll post it
on the Objects page for you when I get it.
Rincon and I encourage you to visit My Dog Bakery and to support
this courageous cancer survivor - no, cancer thriver! - by
sending your friends there, too. Tell Sandy and Dude "Hi"
My Dog Bakery
208 Davis Street
(Near Railroad Square between 3rd and 4th Streets)
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(Ask to be on the e-mail list or postal mailing list so Sandy can
notify you of special events and alert you when the www.mydogbakery.com
website goes up.)
to Sandy, loves walks.
||Rincon: happy customer,
likes to go "where everybody knows your name."