A Lehigh Acres woman who had an unexpected bout with bladder cancer earlier his year and turned her recuperation time into doing something positive by creating all types of stylish attractive jewelry pieces. And with the proceeds of what she is new selling to others, a portion is going to an organization to help fight bladder cancer.
She even has her own website and the help of a very supportive mother, who also lives in Lehigh. When they get together at her mom's house, they enjoy being together as they string precious stones and gems on chains and created beautiful dangling earrings.
Rhonda Cooper, who has just turned 40, found out in March that she had a tumor in her bladder that doctors told her was the size of a golf ball.
"That's a jolt to be told you have liver cancer at my age, said Cooper. She said there had been no history of that type cancer in her family's background so to be told that the tumor must removed.
"Today, I feel like I have been given a second start. I have energy that I didn't have before," she said. The battle is not yet over and won't be for some time to come as Cooper faces return visits to the doctors to make sure it hasn't returned. Cooper said she did not have to undergo chemo therapy or radiation because the surgeons believed they had been successful in removing the tumor.
But the ordeal has caused Cooper to spread the word to other women, no matter their age, and men, too, that at the first sign of blood, don't pass it off. Instead seek a doctor's advice immediately.
She said that advice should be taken very seriously by women who have repeated urinary infections.
"There may never been anything to happen, but it always smart to let your doctor know, especially if you are having several urinary track issues. And she stressed that men, too, can have cancer of the bladder. She noted that men sometimes don't take the symptoms that seriously, but they should, she said, and they should not wait as it can take your life.
Even though the bladder cancer is behind her, Rhonda has turned a negative part of her life into a very productive life because she making jewelry, along with her mom's help, is giving her another interest in her life.
Cooper was engaged in work in education and whether and when she may return is up to her follow-up visits with the doctor and the newfound interest in being what many are calling a very good creator of beautiful jewelry and accessory pieces.
Many of the earrings she and her mother make are colors representing bladder cancer research yellow and orange. Much of the proceeds of sales go to an organization called BCAN (Bladder Cancer Awareness Network.)
BCAN is the first national advocacy organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about bladder cancer; to advancing bladder cancer research; and to providing educational and support services for the bladder cancer community. Founded in May 2005, BCAN is a cooperative effort among bladder cancer survivors, their families and caregivers, and the medical community.
You can go to the site at: www.bcan.org/ for more information.
Cooper says she gives 10 percent of her earnings from the sale of her jewelry to the organization dedicated to make people aware of the disease and also hopefully to find a cure one day.,
After recuperation bean, Cooper started making some earrings as a hobby. Just for the fun of it, her 11-year-old daughter went throughout the neighborhood to see if there was interest in purchasing the earrings and there was. Along with the earring the buy was given information about bladder cancer and what to do is certain symptoms should occur.
"It was a success," Cooper laughed. "A lot of people liked the jewelry and my daughter sold most of it and came back home to tell us people liked what I was doing"
That lead Cooper and her mother to reach out and begin to make other types of jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces, and other trendy find jewelry. Cooper said she purchases her precious stones from craft establishments in the county or on the Internet.
Her mother Lucille Yaddaw is excited for her daughter and what she is doing.
"Before she knew she had bladder cancer, she has such little energy and it was noticeable. Today, after returning to the doctors at least four times, she is filled with energy, more than I have," she laughed.
Prices for the jewelry run anywhere from $5 to $50 and each was wearing jewelry they had made during the photo session after the interview.
"We use silver and other higher end metals to make some fine fashionable jewelry," Yaddaw said.
They are currently building a website where people can see the pieces of jewelry and purchase it through an interactive click. You can call 728-1212- if you are interested in purchasing some of her jewelry.
"They make great gifts for the wife," Cooper smiled.
In the meantime, Cooper wants to make sure people are aware of bladder cancer.
" It's a rare cancer, but you can get it for some reason. Always check to see if there is blood in the urine and if it continues for a period of time, that is a sure sign to go to your doctor or an urologist.
"Caught in time, it can be cured, and that is what we want to get out to the men and women, it can be stopped. In my case, a tumor was removed. I go back at the end of August for a sixth scope, which is an examination of the bladder.
"I can stress enough to women to be aware of any bleeding and the amount of bleeding. Get checked out. It can save your life," she said.