July 12th, 2014
It’s summer time, which means it’s sandal time! I was looking for some cute-yet-functional-and-comfortable sandals for the sunny weather when Linda from Clementine Shoes introduced me to Sseko ribbon sandals.
Sseko Designs (pronounced say-ko) was founded by Liz Forkin Bohannon after she took a post-college trip to Uganda. During her time there she met and made friends with a number of wonderful, smart young women, and learned how difficult it was for them to attend college. Liz wanted to start a company that provided a safe environment for women to learn a skill and earn money for their education, and the idea for the ribbon sandal was born.
Here’s a short overview of the program:
Participants spend nine months in the company factory in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, after which they will have earned enough money to pay for their first year of college (Sseko matches 100% of their earnings with a college scholarship). 47 women have attended college in the five years since the company’s founding, and there are 50 current employees. That’s pretty amazing.
We believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world. – Sseko Designs
Sseko is based in Portland, Oregon, but their products are all made in Africa with the intention of creating jobs, empowering artisans and helping end the cycle of poverty through building healthy communities and economies. In addition to the work in Uganda, Sseko designs and sources ethically made products from East Africa.
The Ribbon Sandal
The ribbon sandal is comprised of a base with several sturdy elastic loops and any number of broad, double-thickness ribbons. As you can imagine, the sky’s the limit with the different number of ribbon threading and tying combinations. Sseko has some on their website, and they encourage you to come up with your own. They also have some lovely accessories you can incorporate into your sandal design.
Linda gave me a pair to try out and I spent a little time browsing through combinations in the How To Tie section of the Sseko website. I tried a couple before landing on the Bohannon’s Best. The video was short and timed perfectly for the sandal tying rookie. Here’s my end result!
The feel of the sandal base reminds me of my old Chaco flip flops: very stable with a nice little bounce. My regular size was perfect in length, and width accommodated my wider foot. The nice thing about the design of these sandals is that you can get the right size by simply standing on the base.
Tip: The cotton ribbon will stretch with the first couple of wears, so tie snugly and expect to re-tie them after walking around a bit.
A sandal base and one ribbon sells for $55, or a starter kit (base + three ribbons) is $80. Additional ribbons and accessories range from $10-20.
December 26th, 2013
I met Deserie and her Army of Angels teammates at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day in September and immediately noticed the beautiful tattoo sleeve on her arm – just look at that color and detail! And the way the stars are incorporated into the background… gorgeous.
Looking closer, I noticed one of the butterflies had a purple ribbon incorporated into its body. Deserie explained that the tattoo (and her 3-Day walk) was in honor of her beloved Aunt Virgie, who lost her fight with pancreatic cancer five years ago.
I knew this form of cancer is very aggressive, but I didn’t realize how difficult it is to treat until our conversation prompted me to look it up: The five year survival rate is astonishingly low, and metastatic forms tend to move swiftly. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) website is a good source of information if you’re interested in learning more.
More tattoo inspiration: The fighting angel logo on the Army of Angels team shirts was modeled after teammate Mindy’s tattoo tribute to her mother. I love it.
Deserie’s tattoo was done by JT at Wicked Needle Tattoo & Piercing in Spanaway, Washington. Thank you, Deserie, for sharing the story behind your tattoo and for prompting me to learn more about pancreatic cancer!
November 4th, 2013
I ran into Beth on the second day of the 2013 Seattle 3-Day walk, and was intrigued by the design of the tattoo on her shoulder blade. She told me it’s a Celtic motherhood knot in honor of her mother, drawn by her son.
I did a little research into the history of the knot, and learned that it’s a holy trinity knot symbolizing a parent and child embrace. It’s typically two hearts, one lower than the first, entwined in a continuous knot. I love how Beth’s son incorporated the pink ribbon into this design, honoring three generations of their family.
Beth had the tattoo done at Flaming Dragon Tattoo in Tacoma, Washington.
As a side note, these pink ink posts are exposing me to a lot of excellent tattoo shops in the Puget Sound region!
November 2nd, 2013
I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Seattle 3-Day Route Safety crew with Tom since 2010 (he rides a Harley). Tom’s wife Colleen is a six-year breast cancer survivor – she walked in 2009 before they both decided they wanted to be a part of the crew.
Their devotion to each other is obvious within minutes of first meeting them, and the pink ribbon tattoo on Tom’s forearm illustrates the depth of their love. The ribbon is flanked by their footprints (bear for him), walking side-by-side.
I love the rougher edges on the ribbon and I still get a little teary when I look at the footprints and imagine them going through Colleen’s cancer journey together.
I look forward to working on the Seattle 3-Day Route Safety crew with Tom again and supporting Colleen as she walks in 2014!
Help Colleen reach her fundraising goal early!
October 31st, 2013
I met Blanche at a fundraising event for Team Tracy this summer, but she’s member of The Pink Penguins 3-Day team (and former co-captain of top 3 team Hello Cupcake) She’s also good friends and teammates with Aubrey, whose hope tattoo was featured earlier this month.
Blanche turned 40 in 2004 and decided to walk in her first 3-Day that year, in part because she needed a new challenge and also because her Aunt Joey passed away from the disease. She was hooked. The 2013 Seattle walk was her 12th, and she’s trying crew for the first time at the San Diego 3-Day in November (“I wanted a new experience and my back and feet will be happy about that.”).
The pink ribbon butterfly was done in 2007 by Josh at House of Tattoo in Tacoma, Washington. She decided to add the flowers two years later, this time working with Slave to the Needle in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. I love the bright colors and subtle blue shading in the background!
It’s required for crew members, but Blanche has decided to raise money for the San Diego walk anyway. I look forward to seeing her smiling face in at the 3-Day in November!
October 13th, 2013
Interested in helping fight cancer?
Organizations focused on programs and services related to cancer are always happy to receive your financial donations, and they can’t survive without volunteers who give precious time. But there’s another way you can help combat cancer, one that typically takes little time and won’t cost you a penny.
Research studies investigate ways to prevent or diagnose cancer
Breast and ovarian cancer both run in my family. With breast cancer, monthly self exams and an annual mammogram should help catch the disease early if it were to develop. Ovarian cancer is another story: It rarely presents symptoms until later stages, resulting in fewer treatment options and higher mortality rates.
For the past six years I have been a participant in the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Screening Program (OCEDP), a collaboration between the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, Swedish Medical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The study is investigating whether blood tests measuring the CA-125 protein and annual ultrasounds help detect ovarian cancer early in women with increased risk. A concurrent study, the Novel Markers trial, aims to find additional blood markers that might complement the CA-125 test.
By taking part in these studies, I am screened for ovarian cancer not once, but twice a year. And my participation will help researchers find ways to detect this form of cancer early. In fact, a recent post on the Fred Hutch blog highlights promising results from ovarian cancer screening trials!
Research study? Clinical trial? What’s the difference?
A research study is also known as a prevention trial. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes a cancer prevention trial as a study of a large group of people with the intent of finding better ways to prevent people from getting cancer, or lowering the chances that people will get it.
A treatment or clinical trial finds better ways to treat people who have already been diagnosed with cancer. Clinical trials are treatment-related trials that involve people, and are the final step in a long process that begins with laboratory research. Most cancer treatments used today are the result of past clinical trials.
Interested in becoming part of a study? The Puget Sound region is home to several research centers in need of volunteers:
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- University of Washington Medical Center
- Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research
- Pacific Ovarian Cancer Research Consortium
- Other Clinical Studies via US National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Please feel free to share any other studies looking for participants.
October 12th, 2013
I met Susan and her friend Joan on the first day of the 2013 Seattle 3-Day, as I was riding alongside some walkers nearing the 20-mile mark. I thought I could see the outline of a pink ribbon tattoo between Susan’s shoulder blades, but there wasn’t one. She did, however, have a pink ribbon on her side, just below her rib cage.
As we chatted, they told me they were walking in memory of their friend Tana, who left behind a husband and young children. My heart broke a little – for them, and for Tana’s family.
Susan has a classic pink ribbon, about 2.5 inches tall. I’m usually not a fan of background shading, but I think it works really well with this ribbon, highlighting some of the texture and dimension in the pink.
October 9th, 2013
Patti and I met on this year’s Seattle 3-Day Route Safety crew as fellow bicyclists. It was her first year on crew, but her second 3-Day… she walked in Seattle last year, just nine months after her breast cancer diagnosis.
In the months following her diagnosis, Patti learned she carries the BRCA1 gene mutation, had surgery to remove the cancer on January 11, followed by a hysterectomy in February. A key comfort to her during this time was her horse, Monte. When she decided to get a tattoo signifying her experience, it seemed right to incorporate this important element of her life.
Patti had both of her tattoos done by Jake at Snohomish Tattoo & Piercing in Snohomish, Washington and is planning on adding a ribbon for each 3-Day she takes part in. You can tell they were still pretty new when I took the pictures, but I think they’ll heal beautifully.
Patti, it was great to get to know you on the route this year. I look forward to seeing you at the 2014 Seattle 3-Day!
October 7th, 2013
The story behind Amanda’s pink ribbon tattoo still makes me a little weepy, more than two weeks after I met her at the 2013 Seattle 3-Day.
Amanda walked her first 3-Day in 2009, and passed a trio of four year-old girls holding the sign:
“Live with no excuses, love with no regrets.”
The girls were triplets who lost their mom to breast cancer, and their dad had brought them to the 3-Day to support people walking to find a cure for the disease. Amanda was so moved by this family she later incorporated their message into her tattoo.
Give your kids an extra hug today!
October 6th, 2013
I first spotted Aubrey at the 2011 Seattle 3-Day, when she was part of The Pink Penguins team, and met her again this year, now as part of Team Tracy. This year marks the fourth time she’s walked the 3-Day in Seattle – she’s also walked in Tampa and is headed to San Diego for her sixth walk in November.
Aubrey merged her team with Tracy’s team this year when Tracy was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time. She explains, “we wanted to show a sign of solidarity, love, and sisterhood. I realized that our team name isn’t what’s important. In the end, we’re all on the same team, fighting the same disease, praying for the same outcome.”
Aubrey’s mom was diagnosed in 2010, exactly one month to the day before her first 3-Day. A year later, she visited Germans Tattoos in Lakewood, Washington to get her tattoo.
My tattoo represents the hope I had for my mom to overcome cancer, the hope I have for those who are battling, and the hope for some day a world without breast cancer. - Aubrey
Aubrey’s mom is currently serving in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor, and in Aubrey’s words “she’s a fighter on so many immeasurable levels.” She comes home for good in December.
Thanks for sharing your story with me, Aubrey. I look forward to seeing you in San Diego!