Photo courtesy of Oakwood Healthcare Inc.
Dearborn Artist Kellie Foret (left) and Sue Majewski, coordinator of the Arts for the Spirit program for Oakwood Healthcare Inc., look over some of the work that will be on display and for sale at Oakwood hospitals in Dearborn, Tayllr and Trenton.
DEARBORN — Dearborn artist Kellie Foret said being diagnosed with cancer at an early age was a turning point for her.
She was 40 years old at the time, and working a stressful job that had her putting in 15-hour work days. Even that didn’t account for the continual fatigue she felt or the pneumonia she couldn’t beat. She said the diagnosis of stage 3b ovarian cancer was almost a relief because it told her what the “real enemy” was.
“Cancer isn’t the worst thing to happen to me,” said Foret, now 49. “It sounds strange, but that’s actually when I started living my life.”
To cope with the diagnosis and the frightening thought of chemotherapy, Foret returned to one of her passions in life: creating jewelry. She was inspired by others waiting for their treatments or struggling through the disease and started to craft unique pieces from them, manipulating semi-precious stones and metals into necklaces, earrings or rings that suited their personalities.
“I’ve always loved making jewelry, but I never had time to do it,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, I realized I had to do something to find my happiness because initially I wasn’t very happy. This is my saving grace from all the weirdness in my life.”
Foret’s pieces are on display in and for sale through the Arts for the Spirit galleries at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn, Oakwood Heritage Hospital in Taylor and Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton.
Each are unique. The Arts for the Spirit program brings the work of local artists into each of Oakwood’s four hospitals as a way to promote an atmosphere of relaxation and healing.
“Every piece of Kellie’s beautiful jewelry is infused with her amazing spirit and grace. We are honored to display her work in our galleries across the Oakwood Healthcare system,” said Judith McNeeley, Oakwood Public Relations manager.
Foret is still living with cancer said she maintains a positive outlook on life. Her struggles and her attitude have proven to be an inspiration for her children.
“It’s given me a lot of perspective on life,” said her son, Evan, a film student at Wayne State University. He is filming a documentary on his mother. “You never know how much time you have and you have to use the time you’ve been given as best you can.”
Kellie Foret agreed, saying she hoped that her art and the documentary will be a part of the legacy she leaves behind.
“We all know that we don’t live forever and we have to make the best of things,” she said. “That’s what I’m doing. What better way than to be able to do something you’re so passionate about and that you love? My biggest hope is that I leave this world not being known as just a woman who fought cancer. I want someone to be able to have something that was in my heart touch their life. I want to spread a little bit of me all over the place.
“This is about a mindset,” she added. “Everything you go in to in your life is about a mindset. You can do anything you want if you have a positive attitude.”
For more information on the Oakwood Arts for the Spirit program, go to www.oakwood.org/art.