Irene Potocki

Irene Potocki

About Irene:

Irene has always envisioned her journey with breast cancer as her “road construction”. As she left the hospital after her initial diagnosis she was already seeing the “road construction area” she was entering. “An area where we are forced to take a detour, the road is bumpy and uneven and often we are forced to go down roads we had no intention of going down. Once this area is reconstructed the road is smoothly paved- crisp and clean markings (are painted) and the sun is shining and flowers are gently swaying on the sides.” She pictured herself at the end and she asked everyone else to see her there too.

Irene has seen herself as being very blessed throughout her journey. She postponed the start of her chemotherapy to continue the tradition of being present at all her grandchildren’s births. Her extended family, friends and co workers were an “amazing network of support”. Each member of her company donated vacation time to her which allowed her to take an extra 30 days without worry. “I realized that all of us who cruise through this breast cancer road construction provide others an opportunity to do good work.” Another of Irene’s friends ran the Y-Me marathon in Chicago on Mother’s Day in 2006 in her honor.

Irene’s treatment included surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and herceptin. She also included healing touch therapy, acupuncture, meditation, music and the love and support of wonderful people to get her to where she is now, “healthy, smiling and standing on the fresh pavement”.

Irene’s Chair: Queen Of The Road . . . Cruising Through Life’s Road Construction Zones

Lakeland RV in Middleton gave me a wobbly chair from their storage area. They thought a Harley themed chair would be a great idea. I loved it! I thought the seat of the chair’s seat was very interesting. What would I put in this secret compartment? “Hear Me Roar Stories of Motorcycles and Women: from early years through current times” by Ann Ferrar sounded perfect. I thought “Hear Me Roar” was an appropriate symbol for the strength and power displayed by those going through breast cancer. I adorned the inside with a patch, donated by “Divas for a Cure”, and motivational stickers with sayings like Fight like a Girl, I’m a Survivor, and Believe, as is the Bandana on the back of the chair. I painted the chair in shades of pink to represent the differences in breast cancer . . . it is not ONE color / one form – so the shades represent the many types of breast cancer. Notice the “chrome”? Vic, my darling husband and partner for over 40 years through the thick and thin of life’s adventures, bought and helped me apply this aluminum tape to the “spokes”! I was looking for pink leather or vinyl for the seat cushion to match the pink paint. By chance (I like to believe by DESIGN) I ‘happened’ to drive by Biel’s Upholstery on a street I had not been down previously in Janesville. Curt from the store said “We certainly can order something for you – hold on just a minute.” He comes back with a piece of pink material saying “I did one piece in this high quality commercial vinyl quite some time ago.” After spending some time getting the creases out of the material he looked at me and said . . . “OBVIOUSLY this has been sitting on my shelf all this time just waiting for you!” This was not the end of my story with Curt and Biel’s Upholstery. Vic came across a wonderful H-D cloth patch but my 40 year old sewing machine was no match for it and the vinyl it needed to be attached to. Curt said it would be no problem to sew it on once he finished the project he was working on. A week later I’m off to Janesville again to pick up the piece to start putting it all together. The goodness of this person I had never before met again amazed me. Curt not only had the patch on the vinyl piece of material but the cushion was neatly upholstered. “Hope the chair brings a good dollar amount at the auction,” says Curt. Now for the final touches. On the back I put a Harley Davidson pin and a bandana. Suspended across the top space I put charms from Divas for a Cure, an Avon breast cancer flip flop received from my dear friend Bobby and a pink ribbon bought at the Chicago Y-Me Marathon ran in my honor by my dear friend and colleague Susan on Mother’s Day in 2006. As you can see, this chair really has quite its own story. The kindness of others working from their heart is awesome. I want to thank everyone who helped me in my journey. Truly through all of life’s challenging roads – I could not have done it [the journey nor this chair] without Vic and his encouragement and his love.