Monday, April 30, 2012

Foundation Blog Update

We're making changes to the Foundation On the Road Blog!

For now, please visit or for updates on the Vera Bradley Foundation.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


ANGOLA, INDIANA - "I'm the first" she told me, "first in just about everything you don’t want to have to go through in life" and then she laughed really hard.She's just a delight, my new friend, Amy, because she is constantly positive. It's obvious from the first moment you meet her; she really exudes that kind of everything-will-be-just-fine attitude. So sweet and refreshing!

Of course, her situation is totally serious. Not a laughing matter at all. She's the first of her friends to get breast cancer, she told me. THAT kind of first. But just in her short journey with this disease, her impact is being made aware to everyone. Many of her dear friends immediately went to get mammograms when she was diagnosed. Two of them received call-backs for suspicious reads of those scans. Just like that, she transitioned from patient to advocate. To life-changer. To hope-giver and inspiration. Just like that.

She does tell her friends that they need not worry. "If it’s a one in eight situation" she says, "I'll be your one. Just be sure to only have 8 friends!" And then I hear that laugh again. Delightful. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - Twice a year, Vera Bradley throws a party. They invite all of their friends to attend, and it is everything you would think it would be. It's more fun than you can imagine, the food is spectacular and you learn all about our product and designs. You also actually get to meet the co-founders. In person. And they are delightful, in case you were wondering. :) 

I always get to share my own personal story, and that of the incredible Foundation that Barb and Pat started nearly two decades ago (the Foundation part is astonishing to me; you do know that $20 million have been pledged to cancer research, right?).

Much like every other gathering, I met many new cancer patients and survivors, and reunited with ladies who have been social media buddies for years now. It's always a great time. 

This time; however, I received something entirely unexpected. I received a message that said someone had made a small video of me as I was speaking. Her goal was to show it to her dear friend who was struggling on her journey with cancer. I spoke on April 14th, and tried to impress upon everyone how much we need to help one another. Just take care of people who struggle with this disease, I begged.  

Jill, my online friend, did just that. She supported her friend, thought about her and took back encouraging words of solace. 

Jill's friend passed away on the 19th. It was, and will always be, a poignant story for me. All of our words matter, dear friends. I will forever be reminded of that fact as I remember Jill. 

I'm so sorry for your loss, Jill. But I am eternally grateful for that amazing act of kindness. You have allowed my entire Vera Bradley family to be included in the most precious time, and we are all humbled by your gesture. 

- heidi

Friday, April 13, 2012


FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - I always assume I will meet cancer patients with amazing stories wherever I go. I'm never disappointed.)

Today's story comes from the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. Pictured behind these lovely ladies is a one-of-a-kind quilt created with Vera Bradley's Tea Garden pattern; I was there admiring the workmanship of that stunning quilt when I saw the lady with the hat.

She had taken it off in an out of the way location, clearly to be discreet. And me being, well ... me, I walked right over and said: "I totally understand. Nothing worse than how hot you get during chemo. Then to have to wear hats; makes it even worse!"

She laughed, took the hat off with a bold flourish an we had a great conversation. Her daughter, pictured to her right, decided that her mama would NOT go through this alone. She has shaved her head in solidarity during her mama's journey.

Now I'm off to Las Vegas for the "A Colorful Day"Can't wait to tell you who I meet there!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


PORTLAND, OREGON - Have you ever been to a cancer center waiting room? I'm guessing if you are a regular reader you just might have. When I had my chemo and radiation, I had almost everything I needed; brilliant doctors, compassionate nurses, caring friends and coworkers, and thanks especially to those coworkers, lots of yummy food!!!

The only thing missing; however, was something that is often not a part of these centers; a children's play area. While we all hate the idea that some children have to come here while parents are being treated, it is a reality. Much like every other life activity, if you go to get something done, you have to bring your kiddos with you. Even if it's something frightening and somber.

My friend Amy lives in Portland and was a mom like me during her treatment. Diagnosed in our 30s with children who had to watch mommy go through such a scary timeAmy had a novel idea.

She would start a full-time (no charge!!!) drop-in child care center at Providence Hospital. Kiddos don't have to wait for hours alone anymore; they can be with other children in a fully supervised and staffed room with caring and nurturing administrators.

The long-term help this is giving is I calculable, don't you think? These little ones will now be able to see that this journey isn't one they have to take alone.

It is one of the most beautiful and compassionate things I've ever heard of, and really has shown me that with a clear focus and kind heart, you can change a scary situation into a good day for a child. 10,000 visitors later, I would have to say I think she has changes lives. Thank you, my dear Amy!