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        News

        Superhero Breast Cancer Survivor: Ann Scranton

        Superhero Breast Cancer Survivor: Ann Scranton

        By Bella Pelletiere

        Ann Scranton was only 49 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In May of 2019, she noticed a dimple on her right breast. After going to an OBGYN for her annual appointment, the dimple then started to form bigger. In July, she was diagnosed with stage 1 estrogen +, progesterone +, invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer.

        “I had a bad feeling the moment I saw the dimple on my skin,” said Scranton. “When the donut shape appeared, I knew it was abnormal. I was prepared for my diagnosis and all of the rapid fire doctor appointments to discuss treatment. I was less prepared for the emotional aspects of telling family and friends about my diagnosis.” 

        As Scranton started her treatment, Scranton talked to many breast cancer patients who spoke about feeling disconnected from their body in the mirror. “I have a normal shaped breast with no nipple, which I admit, I am still getting used to,” Scranton said. 

        “However, I met a cosmetic tattoo artist that specializes in nipple and scar tattoos, and I will be getting a tattoo when I have healed completely.” 

        The biggest obstacle for her during the process was the fatigue being an issue early in. It took Ann 8 weeks to recover before returning back to work after her mastectomy. It was then she had to make the decision about her chemotherapy. 

        The best part of the journey was given so much support that she described it being “overwhelming.” 

        “I am not someone that asks for help, but I needed it. A good friend had lymphoma before I knew her, and recommended I go to the Cancer Support Community, a local organization that offers support groups for cancer patients and their families,” she said. “That was the best decision I could have made. I began attending weekly meetings shortly after diagnosis, and the men and women I have met through my group have supported me as only another person going through breast cancer could.”

        I opted not to get chemo, and began taking a 10-year course of Tamoxifen,” said Ann. “The long term nature of this disease is still present in my life. That’s been hard to accept. You want to get past it and move on with life, but you are different. It changes you. 

        Ann Scranton’s message to women in the community is to take preventive measures by giving self exams. She also recommends being acknowledging your body.  

        “Know your body! Advocate for your own health, don’t be pushed into treatment by your doctors,” she said. “Allow yourself to rest and by all means if you find yourself becoming depressed and self isolating, talk to your doctor about prescribing an antidepressant. It helped me immensely. 

        As well as battling cancer, Ann also was taking care of her family and working full time. “I have an amazing husband, he did everything for me,” she said. “Pink Ribbon Girls provided meals during 6 weeks of treatment, which was such a relief. My work family was also so supportive. I could not have rested those 8 weeks if I was worried about work, and my team stepped up and covered it all.”

        What You Should Know About Our New Supernova Masks

        What You Should Know About Our New Supernova Masks

        By: Bella Pelletiere

        Our Supernova Masks are made from recycled textiles from Vietnam and Thailand that we want to showcase to the North American audience. Each  special textile is more than just a mask to wear on your face to protect you from COVID...it also tells a story. Each mask carries a story and no two masks are exactly the same. 


        Located in North West Vietnam, Our Supernova Saigon Mask is made of Hmong fabric from the ethnic group in Mu Cang Chai. The Hmong people there spend their days growing linen plants to supply fibers for cloth weaving. 

         

        Saigon Mask

        The Supernova Dalat mask carries a more specific meaning to the Thai culture. The symbols in the shape of diamond represent a palm tree that is frequently used in Thai textiles. Members of Thai communities give thanks to the palm trees as they ripen with fruit in August, as they provide food for their communities during times of famine. 

        Dalat Mask

         

        Wearing our Supernova masks also means appreciating different cultures around the world, including the women in Vietnam who dedicate their lives to creating beautiful fabrics.

        Customer Profile: McKenzi Deal!

        Customer Profile: McKenzi Deal!

        Written by: Bella Pelletiere

        On most days, you can find McKenzi Deal dancing and cheering. McKenzi took up dance lessons at a young age, and ever since it was an absolute favorite activity for her. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

        “Honestly, the hardest part of Covid has been the masks. We definitely only use our Rafi Nova Smile Masks around Kenzi,” says Meagan and Brandon Deal, McKenzi’s parents. “The problem is when she’s around people who don’t wear a clear mask. She relies on lip reading even with her Cochlear Implant.”

        McKenzi Deal wore hearing aids for about 3 years before waking up completely deaf.  

        “We never really thought to talk about it (unless someone asked) or spread hearing loss awareness until that morning. When she lost all of her hearing we suddenly felt very alone and unsure what to do in certain situations that came with her being deaf, it was very different than just having a small amount of hearing loss,” says McKenzi’s parents. “We knew then we couldn’t be the only ones feeling this way. 

        McKenzi’s parents then started sharing her story on social media at first as a support mechanism. Their blog, and social media, then gained much traction. Soon enough, the Deal family was educating the rest of the world about hearing loss. 

        When the COVID-19 pandemic began, McKenzi found it difficult because she still relies on lip reading. Not to mention the muffled sound when someone is wearing a mask. 

        Rafi Nova then sent the Deal Family Smile Masks. 

        “We first heard of Rafi Nova when they sent us face masks. I remember being so excited because we didn’t know where to find one, but knew we needed it to better communicate with Kenzi,” says McKenzi’s parents. 

        “McKenzi’s face lit up when she realized she would be able to read our lips when we have to wear a mask. It was so sweet.”

         “No matter what you are facing, never give up or lose hope. God is always with you and will never leave you. Stay positive and never say “I can’t.” Also find a support group if you can, even online,” says Meagan and Brandon Deal. 

        “McKenzi has faced many obstacles since losing her hearing but it has never stopped her from doing anything she wants to do. Even on her bad days she smiles and pushes through. She knows God has big plans for her and through him anything is possible.”

        Kenzi hopes to be a police officer, or teacher when she grows up because she loves helping people.

        Millie Smile Mask in the Media!

        Millie Smile Mask in the Media!

        September is National Deaf Awareness Month, and we couldn’t be more excited that our new Millie Smile Mask was featured in E! Entertainment news and People Magazine and now, Good Morning America! We recently had the opportunity to partner with actress and advocate for the deaf community Millicent (Millie) Simmonds to create a limited-edition version of our revolutionary mask. While traditional cloth face masks interfere with communication for those who read lips, the Smile Mask’s clear panel allows others to clearly see the lips of the wearer. Featuring original artwork hand-painted by Millie, the Millie Smile Mask is available only for a limited time! All proceeds from the Millie Mask will benefit Deaf Women of Color and Loving Hands and Hearts, two nonprofit organizations that are dear both to Millie and Rafi Nova. We hope that soon, all teachers, family members, and friends of those with hearing loss will be able to wear a mask that promotes effective and inclusive communication. At Rafi Nova, we plan to continue supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community and raising awareness through the platform that we have.

        Home Sweet Classroom

        Home Sweet Classroom

        Whether or not you are planning for your child to return to school in person in the fall, odds are, some of your student’s normal activities will still be remote. If you haven’t already converted your spare bedroom or an empty corner of your home into a makeshift classroom, we have gathered some of our favorite ideas for ‘do it yourself’ learning environments to inspire you.

        For students accustomed to a classroom setting, it can be difficult to separate time for work from time for relaxation and play when spending the whole day at home. Recreating a traditional classroom setting, or adapting your child’s lesson plans to the circumstances, is likely to help them with their learning and you with your responsibilities as an interim substitute teacher. If you are worried about the quality and regularity of your child’s education this coming school year, we recommend trying out the following tips to help them, and yourself, adapt to these strange times. 

        1. Designate a Work Space 

        If you have a home office or commute to work, you probably know how difficult it can be to be productive anywhere else. Believe it or not, it is the same for kids. At home, there are all kinds of distractions. Snacks, pets, sounds, siblings, and even you being around are all things children aren’t used to having during the school day. Choosing a space in your home and designating it as your child’s work space will help them focus on their assignments instead of everything else surrounding them. If your child is comfortable working at the kitchen table, that’s great! But, other kids may need more structure. Making use of the space you have, your child may benefit from recreating aspects of the classroom environment they are familiar with. This may mean a space with windows and natural light, their school supplies, and even typical classroom decorations. These things may help your child feel more calm and comfortable in a period of high stress. We love these home spaces that parents and teachers creatively turned into school rooms!

        Check out these instagrams for some inspiration!

        @laurynsimas 

        @nurtureandheal

        @teachingwithpotential 

         

        2. Designate Time for Working and Time for Breaks 

        More than ever, it is important to follow a routine. The nice thing about being at home is that your day can revolve around your schedule, instead of the other way around. But that doesn’t mean that your child should do whatever they want, whenever they want! Just like at school, it may benefit your child to designate different times for different subjects, meals, outdoor breaks, and rest! Although you might have to tailor this plan around your student’s teacher’s schedule, establishing a comfortable routine can be helpful to create a sense of control, predictability and autonomy. 

         

        3. Consider Offering Rewards 

        Most parents normally don’t give their children rewards for doing their schoolwork, but to be fair, this situation isn’t exactly normal. Because kids working from home may be missing out on some of the usual rewards that their teacher has to offer, like treasure boxes, field trips, and group play, you may want to offer some of these incentives yourself! Consider giving your child one small incentive each day for a job well done, such as an extra 15 minutes of screen time, a trip to the ice cream shop, or some spending money to put towards a new toy. While a lot of kids enjoy school and learning, a lot of other children have a hard time finding motivation and focus. With school and after school activities now online, this difficulty may be increased. Offering small motivations for a successful day at school may inspire your child to take initiative to get their work done. 

         

        4. Adapt to Limit Electronics Use

        With life as we know it shifting online, controlling your child’s screen time is easier said than done. But, too much time in front of phones and computers can have long lasting and detrimental effects on your child’s health. In addition to damaging eyesight and sleep patterns, too much screen time may also lead to problems with behavior, education, and weight. To combat this, we recommend supplementing your child’s curriculum with books, field trips, and projects. It might seem old fashioned nowadays to pull out textbooks, paper, and pencils, but the generations before you can tell you that this method is tried and true! As much as possible, consider allowing life skills and practical lessons to be a part of your child’s syllabus this year. Now is a great time to pursue passion projects and hobbies. If your child wants to learn to cook or bake, make that part of their math and chemistry lessons! Does your child like comic books? Those can be a nice supplement to art and reading! Learning this year is all about flexibility, and this semester serves as a great reminder of how much learning can occur outside of the classroom.

         

        5. Encourage Kids to Stay Connected w/ Classmates via. Zoom 

        If your child’s school is online, one thing that might not be easily replicated is the friendships and bonds they would form with other classmates and teammates. However, it is still important for kids to feel connected with the students in their grade (and their teacher)! We love these ideas for virtual playdates that will help your child experience friendship and fun while staying home. You can also take this offline! If other parents are comfortable exchanging home addresses, your child can become pen pals with his or her teacher and classmate. Children will love sharing photos of pets and siblings, making postcards from their staycation, and even telling secrets and stories to one another through the mail.