FAIRVIEW PARK, OH (WOIO) - During her own battle with breast cancer, a woman found accessorizing made her feel better. Now she's helping lift the spirits of others battling the disease, one pair of earrings at a time.
Ruth Crane is a wife, a mother of three, as well as a cancer survivor.
"When my youngest was a baby, I was still nursing him - back in 2008 - I was diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer," said Crane. "My third grader was always more inquisitive, asks the tougher questions; he asked me one day, 'Mom, are you going to die?' I can't begin to explain how terrifying that was for me to answer that question, and at the same time, face that question myself."
The cancer treatments took a physical and emotional toll on Crane.
"It's a little bit shocking. It's a little bit upsetting. So, when I had my earrings on, when I was wearing my wig, had my makeup on, I felt more normal, prettier, more attractive, more like me, not always the cancer patient," added Crane.
That's when Crane got an idea: What if she could help other cancer patients feel a little prettier - a little more like themselves? That's when the nonprofit, "Ears to You" started.
Cancer patients, like Angel Pry of Sheffield Village, get to pick out a pair of earrings to lift their spirits and regain a sense of themselves.
"I did. I found the right pair," said Pry, with a huge grin across her face as she picked out a sparkly pair in the shape of Christmas wreaths.
"You feel like you lose your womanhood. You're not pretty anymore. Your hair is falling out. You gain weight," said Pry.
But, picking out a pretty pair of earrings has brought smiles to as many as 10,000 cancer patients.
"It was a chance for them to do something joyful at a time when you don't normally think of joy," explained Crane.
Ears to You also gives hats to men and boys undergoing cancer treatments.
The organization partners with 26 hospitals in 31 locations, with most in northeast Ohio. Many of the earrings are donated. Some are purchased with money that's donated through fundraisers.
Learn more about how you can support Ears to You.