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Little family wear hearts on their sleeves

Jewellery designer Rebecca Little created the Josephine bracelet to help raise funds to care for her mother, Josephine, who was diagnosed with breast cancer (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

In the wake of bad news, the Little family is wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Josephine Little was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer three years ago; after surgery and chemotherapy she was given the all-clear.

A routine mammogram in July resulted in a second diagnosis almost three years to the day.

Rebecca Little and her sisters — Naomi, 33, Joanna, 30 and Rachel, 27 — were heartbroken to learn the cancer had come back as stage four.

The jewellery designer created the Josephine bracelet to raise funds for the treatment. They will be launched tonight at Reid Street clothing store TABS.

While she came up with the idea, it was her sisters who got the ball rolling.

“The difficulty of dealing with the diagnosis was hard enough, but then the issues with the health insurance were really scary,” she said.

Her mother’s insurance covers only a small portion of the costs and does not provide access to a new medicine that can prevent the cancer spreading. Mrs Little was unable to upgrade her policy owing to her pre-existing condition.

“The response has been amazing,” her daughter said. “We’ve had so many lovely e-mails of encouragement. A lot of survivors want one and even people going through treatment now.

“I’m happy I can contribute. It’s a sad thing, but I feel like I’m channelling all of that energy into this and helping.”

While she was fortunate to avoid radiation three years ago, Mrs Little faces the treatment in the new year.

“When I was diagnosed the second time, I felt more confident because I’ve been through this, but when there were two tumours and not just the one, I realised this was different. It hasn’t been in my family before. Cancer has, but not this type. We read blogs and journals and learn how friends and families are affected. There are so many different types, so many different levels and treatments.

“It’s important to have regular mammograms and check-ups and talk about the results — good or bad — as we talk about anything else that rocks our boat — then people are more aware.”

Friends and family have sent their encouragement and donated generously; enough to cover her first trip for treatment in the summer.

“It’s amazing what people go through and how they get through. It’s the strength of the human spirit,” Mrs Little said.

She said that without the regular scheduled checks she would not have discovered it.

“There was nothing that I could touch or feel and nothing hurt. Until I’d had a lot of pain, I doubt I would have done much about it. The monthly tests are very important.

“It is free to every woman in Bermuda at Bermuda Cancer and Health and King Edward. Even if you have no insurance. It’s that important.”

Greeting cards made by Rachel will also be on sale at tonight’s event; guest speakers will give talks on breast cancer.

“It’s humbling and honouring. We all feel very loved,” Mrs Little said. “If people verbalised this caring more often, I think we’d all do better.”

The Josephine bracelet launch takes place from 5pm-8pm. The sterling silver and rose quartz bracelets are $75 each or $140 for two. They are available at TABS and online: rebeccalittlejewellery.com/collections/bracelets/products/the-josephine-bracelet