When Navonya Jones was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, she knew that her treatment — which included a bilateral mastectomy — would be tough. But what she didn’t expect was how hard life would be once she was declared cancer-free.
“I was going through so much stuff mentally,” she said. “As a woman, when you lose your breasts, it’s hard. My anxiety was really bad, and I was worried about so much stuff I couldn’t see — I was always scared it would come back.”
Jones, who works as a property manager in High Point, turned to gardening to help process the emotional wreckage left by cancer.
“I started planting as a way to deal with my anxiety,” she said. “And pretty soon, women started supporting me by buying my plants.”
Seeing the joy her plants brought others, and feeling the therapeutic effects of tending greenery herself, sparked an idea in Jones. That’s how her nonprofit, The Pink Planter, was born.
Through The Pink Planter, Jones takes nominations of women diagnosed with breast cancer — both those in active treatment and survivors — and delivers plants in vibrant pink pots and vases to their home or workplace. She began the distribution last year with hardy varieties such as snake plants and pothos, and has since transitioned to mostly floral bouquets that she assembles herself.
She says the reaction of the women to those flowers spurred the change, while reinforcing the purpose behind The Pink Planter.
“It’s healing for me because when they come to the door and they’re happy, it takes a burden off my shoulders,” she said. “And it also takes a burden off their shoulders — for at least the next 15 minutes. They’re enamored by the flowers and the thought that I care about them, and the person who nominated them cares, too.”
Jones says she feels a bond with these women, a shared sense of fighting a similar battle.
“The camaraderie is the biggest part of this,” she said. “I was in the military, and one thing they taught us in basic training is you never leave your battle buddy, and I view these women as my battle buddies.”
In October, when the world seems awash in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women living with or who’ve survived this disease sit in the spotlight. But for survivors like Jones, the struggles with this disease continue year-round. And it’s that reality that keeps her going, to show her fellow battle buddies they’re not alone.
“Breast cancer has always been summed up to one month,” she said. “In October, everybody cares about us, but as soon as Nov. 1 comes, they move on to Thanksgiving. This allows me to celebrate these women every day.”
Contact Jennifer Bringle at email@example.com.