Heirloom of Memories – Christine Handy
The beauty is in that, the beauty in the ashes.
As a tall, striking, blonde woman, Christine Handy is a radiant embodiment of health and happiness. But it wasn't always so for the lovely formal model, devoted wife and mother. Christine is a proud survivor of breast cancer. After multiple surgeries and numerous setbacks, there was a moment when Christine thought she might not make it. She had lost all mobility. During this time, Mimi created a special piece for her, a beautiful and delicate pink sapphire necklace which Christine in turn gifted to the 13 women who helped her and took care of her family. Today, Christine wears a diamond necklace by Mimi, the Phoenix pendant, which for her is a symbol of her survival. The feather lies horizontally, which signifies not just rising, but soaring through the ashes.
Christine is a 15 year collector of Mimi's jewelry and in that time, she has become more than a client, but a close friend. The following is Christine's story in her own words: "I started modeling when I was around 11 years old. I went on to model at an international level for 25 years from when I began. My esteem and self worth was definitely tied to what I looked like and my profession. When I was 35 years old, I needed to have a major colon surgery. During that surgery, my surgeon made a mistake and I almost bled to death on the operating table. What was supposed to be a short recovery turned into about a year recovery. I had small kids at the time and it totally changed me in a way, but not until six years later when I had another doctor make a mistake did I realize the lessons I should have learned back then. In 2011, I went in for a surgery on my right wrist. Seven months later, after being bullied by the Stanford grad doctor I had chosen for the surgery, I ended up with a fused right arm. That doctor had left an infection in my arm for seven months.
Those seven months were the most painful of my life. My arm was in so much pain, but I continued to raise my kids. I went to physical therapy five days a week, I stopped modeling and my life turned into one medical nightmare after another. Seven months into the arm, I finally got up the courage to see another arm doctor. That same day I was immediately taken into surgery to dig out as much of the infection as possible in my arm. The infection was in my arm for all those months, the whole time the surgeon was telling me the pain and swelling was in my head. Nobody was listening to me. The infection was so bad I almost lost my arm. I had a picc line put in my upper arm and had antibiotics for a month. After that, I flew to NYC to a new arm doctor and had it fused. The arm was too destroyed to function anymore. Six weeks after my right arm was fused, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then I went on to have fifteen months of chemotherapy, twenty-eight rounds and 18 surgeries. I think the Phoenix best represents me, although I have the Piece collection too and I feel like that applies to my story as well.
I certainly did rise from the ashes as in the Phoenix…many times. The Piece collection represents my circular motion, from being young, innocent and modeling, to sickness and then back to health. I have used all those angles to mold into this person that is fiercely strong and devoted to help others. The pieces once torn apart are all sewn back together. And the pink piece I had Mimi make for my friends represents breast cancer not stealing my joy, but ultimately giving me life back. The beauty is in that, the beauty in the ashes.