SHEro Code 004:

SHEro

 

 

SHEro004 (1)

 She was born a slave, but was so shielded and lived so comfortably, that she wrote “I was born a slave; but I never knew till six years of happy childhood had passed away.” Her mother died when Harriet was only 6, and she was sent to live with her mother’s mistress, who taught her to read, write, and sew. Harriet was sold to a physician when she was 11, and, after loosing her father as well, Harriet became deeply unhappy. The doctor made Harriet miserable with his unwanted advances. The doctor’s wife was vindictive and jealous. To Harriet’s knowledge, the doctor had fathered nearly a dozen children to slave mothers. Harriet would not be one of them.

The doctor refused to let Harriet marry a freed black carpenter, and she soon began a relationship with a white lawyer with whom she would have two children. Meanwhile, the doctor was fed up with Harriet, and she was moved to his brother’s plantation. When Harriet heard of plans for her children to be sent to join her on the plantation, she immediately began making plans to escape. If she was gone, the children would stay with Harriet’s grandmother, and be spared life as plantation slaves.

“Whatever slavery might do to me,” she wrote, “it could not shackle my children. If I fell a sacrifice, my little ones were saved.”

 So she escaped to friends homes, then eventually to her grandmother’s home. She hid in a small space above a store room. It was seven feet wide, nine feet long, and only three feet high. She could not even stand up in it, but there she stayed for seven years. She was able to hear and see glimpses of her children. The father of her children finally purchased them, as well as Harriet’s brother, with the promise to free them. She and her children eventually made their way to New York, where a sympathetic friend bought Harriet in order to set her free once and for all.

She began writing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl in 1853. When efforts to publish the book failed, she had it published “for the author” in 1861. The book was published in Britain the following year.

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 Harriet went on to teach, nurse troops, and run a boarding house. She died on March 7, 1897.

What most impresses me about Harriet Ann Jacobs is her resilience. She remained in hiding for seven years– in a space where she could not even stand up! During that entire time, she never revealed herself to her children. When she finally did gain her freedom, she did not waste it. She served others and shared her story.

And that makes her one heck of a SHEro.


Learn more about Harriet Ann Jacobs here

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SHEro Code 003

SHEro003 (2)

 

Daniela Delgado is fighting her own battle. She was born with Von Willebrand Disease, a rare bleeding condition that she will have to deal with her whole life. It keeps her from participating in contact sports and climbing to the tippy top of the jungle gym. But it doesn’t keep her from baking beautiful birthday cakes for kiddos who are fighting life threatening diseases, or dealing with any situation that might make them “feel sad or different.” She bakes and delivers the cakes at no charge to the families. She sings Happy Birthday and watches as they blow out the candles. She could be sitting around, feeling sorry for herself and complaining about her condition. But instead she is spreading love, and bringing smiles to kiddos who deserve a few more smiles in their lives.

And that makes her a SHEro in my book.

(Check out more SHEroes here)

Beauty is…resilience

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

 Being a mom is not easy.

Being a mom before you enter college is hard.

Being a mom and going to college is harder still.

Being a mom, going to college, spending the better part of a year in the hospital fighting Ewing’s Sarcoma, and losing your leg as a result? Impossible.

But this mama is doing it.

Irene

 

Who you are: Irene Blum

 

What you do: Mom, college student, childhood cancer and limb loss awareness advocate.

 

Where you do it: Stamford, CT

 

Tell us your story.Motivated

I was born and raised in Stamford, CT. I used to play softball, volunteer at my local hospital, and was very social. I got pregnant at 16 years old. I had my son Jason during my senior year in high school. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanted to be a good role model so I became very motivated. I worked in social services helping at-risk youth and went on to study at the University of Connecticut. When I was 20 years old I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of pediatric bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. I had to stop working and going to school because my treatment was a year of high-dose chemotherapy and countless surgeries. I had many complications along the way, the most significant one resulted in an above-the-knee amputation. I have been in remission for 10 months now and am very blessed to be alive.

You have had more than your fair share of challenges and trials. What do you consider your biggest challenge? What got you through it?  

Jason (1)My biggest challenge in life was my battle against cancer. The chemotherapy drugs I was given were so toxic that I became debilitatingly sick. I spent nearly 10 out of 12 months inpatient. I was working so hard to just stay alive that I couldn’t be the amazing mom that I wanted to be to Jason. I went from being his primary caregiver to being lucky if I could see him during weekend visits at the hospital.

Treatment became so brutal that the folks at the hospital called me “Murphy’s Law Girl” because everything that could go wrong, did. I wanted to quit so bad and just go home to be with my son. My doctors talked me out of quitting because they would remind me that if I did, the time spent with Jason would be short because Ewing’s Sarcoma is aggressive and would most certainly return with a vengeance if I did not finish my protocol. If I finished treatment, I could return home and live a fulfilling life with my son with little chance of relapse.

If Jason weren’t here, I would have quit treatment because it was torturous. I wouldn’t be here answering this interview if my son wasn’t born… Fun fact: The name Jason means “the healer.” I definitely feel like he popped into my life early and unexpectedly for a reason. Another reason why I am lucky to have him is because my cancer treatment ruined my reproductive system. I am technically infertile. I would love to have children in the future but will probably have to adopt.

mayim-bialik-big-bang-theory-ftr1
Image from Parade.com

 If you could have coffee with any woman, historical or living, who would it be and why?

Mayim Bialik because she’s brilliant, progressive, outspoken, and has a great sense of humor.

 

mulan
Image from filmandtvnow.com

 Who is your favorite Disney Princess?

Mulan because she was one tough chick. Instead of being a damsel in distress, she protected her disabled father from going to war and saved her entire country.

 

What is the best song to sing to in the shower or when you are alone in the car?

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

What was the best piece of advice you have received? What was the worst?

“You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first,” was the best piece of advice I have ever received. The worst would probably be, “don’t do chemo, just pray and eat papayas.”

Good advice, bad advice
Good advice vs bad advice

What books or TV shows do you think everyone needs to read/watch, like, right now?

Grey’s Anatomy is my all-time favorite show. Grey’s is the best part of every Thursday. Jodi Picoult is my favorite author and after going through treatment, I re-read “My Sister’s Keeper” with a newfound appreciation for it and was moved to tears multiple times throughout the book.

What is your definition of beauty? Or, when do you feel most beautiful?

Going through treatment taught me to find beauty in absolutely everything. I define Rainy daybeauty as anything or anyone that provokes positive emotions when you look at it/them. Before cancer, I would look at a rainy day and think “jeez, what an ugly day.” It was a rainy day in March when I got discharged from the hospital after being inpatient for nearly 5 months. I cried tears of joy as I felt raindrops on my bald head. A year later, I still look at rain and remind myself how much joy rain brought me. I can look at a rainy day today and think, “what a beautiful day.”

I feel the most beautiful when I watch myself in the mirror during physical therapy. I feel so much pride when I see myself mastering things I never thought I would be able to do again after my amputation like standing or walking. I see resilience in the mirror and I think resilience is beautiful.

Beauty is...resilience

SHEro Code 001: Do Your Homework

Mrs. Freeman knew the root of the problem was unjust and unconstitutional laws. So she fought to change them. That is why she is my SHEro.

SHEro

 

SHEro001

Frankie Muse Freeman is a civil rights attorney in St Louis Missouri. She was the first woman to serve on the US Commission on Civil Rights. She won the case that ended segregation in public housing in St Louis. Instead of sitting in the “colored” section of the bus, Frankie walked. Instead of making a scene when she was denied service at coffee shops or restaurants, she promised “Later for you” and got busy changing laws. Mrs. Freeman knew the root of the problem was unjust and unconstitutional laws. So she fought to change them.

That is why she is my SHEro.