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Stories told through pottery, painted by breast cancer survivors

When Lynn Tachick started her own pottery business about 10 years ago, she didn’t realize her home pottery studio would turn into a space for breast cancer survivors to share their stories.

"It's allowing people to come, be creative, have fun and also give back," said Tachick.

Bowls of Hope is one of the three paint series of Painting for a Purpose. When Tachick started her business, she intended to find imaginative ways to give back. Tachick said she sites her spark for using pottery as a means to spread joy from her initial project called “ I Found It.”

“I would put little pieces of pottery anywhere I could with a little note that says, “If you found it let me know,’ and about 30 to 40 percent report that they found it,” said Tachick. “Now there are over 745 pieces out there.”

What started from her objects trickling throughout the state, navigated throughout the country. As of today, all of Tachick’s pottery pieces are in every continent. Yes, that includes Antarctica.  

Fast forward to Tachick at a charity event this past November, she noticed breast cancer survivors painted a variety of things and that's when it clicked.

Tachick had her own pottery business, why not extend her space for survivors to paint pottery pieces for free? Better yet, why not have survivors paint and then auction off the pieces?

“I offered breast cancer survivors and those directly impacted to come and paint a bowl,” said  Tachick. “We are going to auction them off Feb. 23 and all the money will go to Making Strides.”

Making Strides of Milwaukee is affiliated with The American Cancer Society, Tachick said she selected this organization because she felt it impacted breast cancer patients from investing in cancer research and offering a ride service to treatment centers.

In 2019, a statisticshowed that one in eight women living in the United States develop breast cancer over their lifetime. This project allowed Tachick to meet women from all walks of life that have been affected by that statistic. Tachick says one of the common fears among women is how unpredictable breast cancer can be but many obtain a positive mindset.
“They are amazed at what their bodies have been through, of what they have overcome, what they continue to overcome. The biggest thing is that they always talk about their support system,” said Tachick.

Bowls of Hope have successfully painted 70 bowls and will be auctioned on Feb. 23 at the New Berlin Ale House, 16000 W. Cleveland Ave. All proceeds will go to Making Strides of Milwaukee.

Bowls of Hope currently have 70 bowls to be auctioned. Here are some of the stories.

“Jennifer and I have been together for eight years, we went on one date on a really snowy night in Waukesha and we never looked back," said Ann Rakowiecki. "We got married on April 12, 2014. Jennifer was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer on June 19, 2014. She had just turned 39. Within three days, our vocabulary changed. Our priorities changed. Our worries changed. There's so much that doctors and nurses never tell you about cancer and treatment. How your life is never just about cancer anymore. It's about side effects, it's about infections. It's about torn skin. It's about botched reconstruction. It's about blood clots. It's about blood transfusions. It's about being too weak to eat. It's about being mad at the world. It's about fear. Mostly now I'm over it. I'll never forget the crying, the pain, the fear. I'm happy that we're able to sit on the couch together, run errands. My wife has done some pretty big things. She got a master's degree, made a career change and is now pursuing a Ph.D.”

“I was diagnosed in March 2010 at the age of 39 with Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer, " said Kelly Gramblicka. "The day I received the call that I had cancer, is the day that I became a survivor. I survived that call, chemo, multiple surgeries, and radiation. I would not have been able to survive all of that without my faith. I have faith in God, my family, and my friendships. Without those relationships, I am not sure my strength to keep going would be as strong as it was. I knew I had to beat the odds I was given to get to the next road on my journey to help others. I am now an avid fundraiser and advocate for the American Cancer Society and Making Strides. I am also a mentor to many other women facing this insidious disease. I want to someday see a world that is cancer-free.”

"Cancer Sucks!" said Anne Bartlett. "There is really nothing more to be said, however, great experiences can come from cancer. Having cancer allowed me to participate in Team Phoenix, a triathlon team for patients and survivors. Waves of Hope is the journey of learning to swim and training for a triathlon that I would have never done without a cancer diagnosis. There is life after cancer."

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee