ITW n°76: Amélie & Claire - founders of "Smile in Box".
Today I present to you Amélie and Claire, founders of " Smile in Box ", a beautiful bright project straight from the land of cicadas (Marseille) and a beautiful story which was born from the common experience of 2 united sisters: l a former fighter of a breast K (Amélie) and the other unwavering support (Claire), living 12,000 km away.
Because each project born from the K test becomes complementary, I present to you today other "boxes" to soften the lives of patients: life projects, to soften life, that's what Amélie, Claire and I defend, together we find “solutions”, we are so much stronger united.
Let's get started:
Who are you ?
First names: Amélie and Claire
Ages: 37 and 32 years old
Professions: founders of Smile in box
You decided to create Smile in box, how did this great idea come about?
Amelie : Smile in box was born from our common experience: one a K fighter and the other an unwavering supporter, living 12,000 km away.
I had cancer in 2013, I was living in Lima, Peru, and even though I was very well supported by my husband, his family and our friends there, you cannot replace the support of your parents, brothers and sisters… So to be present despite the distance, my family sent me “melo boxes” throughout this ordeal, concentrates of happiness in a box! Sweet treats, natural products with the sweet smells of my native Provence, drawings and little words... An immense happiness and a source of strength for me. We want to share our experience with as many people as possible because the support of loved ones is essential to fight against a K.
all is said ;)
Are you just the two of you at Smile in box?
Full time yes ;) but other people contribute strongly to the project: Delphine who created our graphic charter, Julie who produces our tutorials on all questions of the helping relationship, Kirsten and Perrine our experts (oncologist and doctor in pharmacy specializing in nutrition) who give us their well-being advice and the New Quest team who are creating our future website.
What family bond unites you?
we are sisters ;)
How did you divide up the tasks?
Clear : We both come from marketing and communications backgrounds but quite instinctively we divided up the tasks. I manage more the content, the suppliers (which we took care to select carefully) and the logistics. Amélie took charge of the creative part (visuals, photos, videos), web marketing and figures.
Everything has happened from the start in a natural way, by affinity and desire of each of the two. I couldn't dream of a better partner ;)
What K did you get?
breast cancer, stage III
What were your feelings when the announcement was made, how old were you?
I was 34 when the announcement was made. The world collapsed around me. I collapsed. I gave myself 5 days to cry, to be at rock bottom, and then I started to fight. I had a little bundle of joy full of life who reminded me at all times that life continued and that I had to fight to see him grow.
Clear : I was 29 years old... the announcement came like a hammer: who could imagine that their sister (so young) could be affected by cancer??? Unimaginable for me until this day! Especially since Amélie was living 12,000km away at the time... I only dreamed of one thing: taking the first plane to hold her tightly in my arms... but I was about to give birth and with the birth of my son I had to wait months before being able to do it...
What are the nugget phrases that someone said to you during K and that could have been avoided or that you could have said and that you should have avoided ;)?
Amelie : I would have done without comments about the aunts, mothers or friends who did not win the battle, or who do it again...
Sometimes comments like “you are strong”, “you are a fighter”, “how do you do it?” I couldn't" are hard to swallow... We act strong, because we have to fight and move forward and collapsing wouldn't have helped me, but no, I didn't consider myself strong or courageous, and I often wanted to give up and stop acting strong...
From a distance the weight of words is even greater and the risks of saying banalities or nuggets are even more present I think... finding the right words was a real problem for me (I searched but difficult to find advice), not being able to be physically present… on Skype, I realize that I was perhaps saying too much “how are you”, rather than “how are you feeling today”…
What did you do to take your mind off things during K ?
Amelie : I tried to occupy my mind or my hands: I read a lot during my treatment, good thrillers, but also station novels which required no intellectual effort ;) I did sewing, I saw friends or family (live or via Skype), I played with my 16 month old son :)
Clear : To tell the truth, my concern was more about knowing how to change Amélie's ideas... it's really frustrating not to be able to be present and I am well aware that from a distance, we quickly get caught up in everyday life
How was your life in the medical profession?
Did you find the answers you were looking for, did you manage to understand everything?
Amelie : I followed all my treatment in Peru, but I regularly consulted an oncologist in France, to whom I sent my results to be reassured about the protocol followed. There I was very well looked after, my doctor was wonderful, always attentive, she answered all my questions and took the time to explain everything to me, to reassure me and my husband.
Clear : I have not had any contact with the medical profession. Amélie always explained the different phases and results to us well. I didn't understand everything but I didn't try to look on the Internet, for fear of finding everything and anything...
What was your first feeling when you first met the treatments (chemotherapy/hospital)?
Amelie : My treatments began with adjuvant chemo every 15 days. My parents arrived 2 days before my first chemo, having them at home helped me a lot from a physical and emotional point of view. During my first session, I set out to explore, anxious about what was going to happen. But I expected it to be much worse, so it went “rather” well. The second was much worse, and it went from strength to strength…
the frustration of not being there!
Did you get information on the internet?
IF YES: What would be the useful (internet) links that helped you to give you strength, and those to recommend to relatives of K fighters?
Yes ! The Internet has helped me a lot. I was treated in Lima, another continent, another culture, another language... it scared me and on the internet I made sure I understood everything, to be sure that my treatment corresponded to what I wanted. would have had in Europe. I went to look for information on all the official French, Spanish, Canadian, American sites... (I made a point of never going to the forums, which offer very personal points of view, and can be scary more than reassuring): e-cancer.fr , Ligue-cancer.net …
no, very little, just on “official” sites like e-cancer.fr
What were your beauty/well-being tips during the treatments to help you or him?
I tried to take the most natural products possible, to avoid adding toxic products to everything I was already taking.
For the scalp, on the advice of my oncologist, I massaged myself every day with aloe vera gel mixed with a mild shampoo. I've never had an itch and it helps with hair regrowth.
For the skin, I used micellar water, moisturizing creams morning and evening, and superfatted shower gel.
And for the nails, red varnish enriched with silica.
Clear : To improve his well-being (on our scale!) and above all show him that we were there despite the distance, my family and I tried to increase the number of little positive touches and long live Skype!!!
Were you able to talk freely about it to your loved ones? Did you feel supported/supported/understood?
I felt supported and very cared for from the first day! Things happened naturally with my parents, and they took it upon themselves to talk to my brothers and sisters about it. And my husband to close friends. I wasn't capable of it.
Clear : Not necessarily... we talked about it a lot with my husband (who had just lost his dad to cancer), my family but very little with friends... they asked for news but I didn't go into detail... very sensitive by nature I preferred to clear my mind (and avoid crying)
What advice would you give to other loved ones to support a K fighter?
Simply being there. Whether we are comfortable with the illness or not, whether we live 50m or 5,000km away, a little word from time to time, by text message, email, Facebook or postcard, a surprise visit, a little gift, there is nothing better to recharge your batteries, fight and smile again, or at least feel loved, appreciated and cared for.
And don't necessarily expect a response right away, it will come, but you may have to wait a little..
Close, less close, geographically distant... don't be afraid, listen, talk and show little attentions (without being too intrusive either ;) and dare to say "I love you" without complexes ;)
What has this ordeal changed in your life (your vision of the world, of those around you, any disappointments? Any great discoveries despite everything?)
I had magnificent demonstrations of friendship which touched me a lot, sometimes surprised me, but all brought a lot.
I learned that life hangs by a thread, that we must enjoy each day and focus on the essentials: doing things that make us happy, fulfill us, and not waste time or effort. 'energies on unimportant details or arguments. You have to enjoy it, tell people you love them, and enjoy every moment.
The illness convinced me that I had to find a professional path that would allow me to help my neighbor.
Clear : Many things ! In my worldview on the one hand. I became aware of the importance of enjoying every moment, of those close to you, of avoiding putting things off until tomorrow... and then from a professional point of view, I really liked my job but I had want to do something more concrete, which could be useful for something, and so that every evening I can go to bed telling myself that I regret nothing and that in any case I would have tried!
After such an experience / life test we understand that you wanted to give meaning and create your project, can you tell us more about Smile in box :
Indeed, Smile in box is the fruit of our personal experience... the story of a sister who wants to bring comfort to her eldest but who cannot be there physically... how to do it? The first smile in boxes were then born instinctively: concentrates of little touches with products that could please but also soften everyday life.
Amelie : We want to provide well-being to patients and have looked for ways to soften the side effects of treatments, as an extension of supportive care. We are also convinced of the importance of support from those around us in the broad sense. There are no miracle cures, but a number of little things that can improve everyday life: to take care of yourself with organic and natural cosmetics, to delight your taste buds with also organic and natural sweets, or even activities (re ) creative ways to escape, without forgetting sweet little words to tell your loved one that we are there for them. Today we offer 10 gift boxes, for women, men and teenagers, and a special box for children.
How can we obtain your boxes?
On our website: www.smile-in-box.com
Site on which we offer all the products and especially 3 month or 6 month formulas (to make the pleasure last ;)
What are your ideas for the future?
To be able to offer our gift boxes to as many people as possible, and not just in France, why not in Peru?
Links to follow you (site / social networks):
And also on Twitter and Instagram!
Free field (what would you like to add that is not in my questions):
To the K fighters: you must keep smiling, look far ahead, and never give up the fight.
To loved ones: be present, it doesn't take a lot of effort or time, but it is extremely important for your loved one.
Thanks Charlotte ;)
Thank you girls.
If like Amélie & Claire you want to tell your story, share your tips, and you have a project around K, write to me at: email@example.com
*Many of you send me your testimonies, thank you for your precious trust, for this same reason, the broadcasts of your interviews will sometimes be broadcast in several months, but know that I keep and transmit absolutely ALL the testimonies that are sent to me , Thank you for understanding.
Please note that I do not retouch any Interview, they are completely free, it is your freedom, your story, I just add my personal touch with the illustration, they are delivered as they were sent to me ;)
NEVER GIVE UP!!