The month of October signifies many different things; the end of summer, the start of fall, and trick or treating on Halloween. For many, October also identifies the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Across the country, organizations raise awareness for breast cancer research in very unique ways. NFL teams don pink uniforms and cleats, foundations host walks and fundraisers, and many brands announce their commitment to support the cause in their own ways.
This year, Tumble is joining in to support breast cancer awareness by donating $10 for every Amara Blush/Grey washable rug sold to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting those with breast cancer at every stage of their diagnosis. Amara is one of our best selling washable rugs, which is why we believe it is the best rug to incentivize donations to LBBC.
At Tumble, we firmly believe that our extensive line of washable rugs would not be possible without the team of creatives behind the product. Among this team is our designer, Kerri Besse, who has experienced her own personal journey of overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month holds a special place in our hearts due to Kerri’s diagnosis with breast cancer shortly before we began working with her,” says Justin Soleimani, co-founder of Tumble. “Throughout the first year working together, Kerri was undergoing treatment and we felt very lucky to be serving as a small outlet for her during this extremely difficult time.”
Kerri’s extensive impact on Tumble — from providing one-on-one design consultations to sharing her expertise on the blog — have solidified our brand mission. With her dedication and passion for sharing design tips, Tumble has evolved beyond only selling the best washable rugs into a full-service design space. Because of this, we feel honored to have the opportunity to give back and support an organization that is so close to her heart.
“Throughout the entire process, we were continuously amazed at Kerri’s strength and optimism, which have become core tenets of Tumble’s culture today,” Justin says.
In this week’s blog, we want to take a moment to share Kerri’s story and the first-hand impact that LBBC has had on her life:
Can you share about your initial diagnosis two years ago and the journey to where you are today?
When I found the lump in a yoga class, I was right in the middle of splitting my time between our house in Dallas and New England. My mom was diagnosed with ALS in September of 2019 at a hospital near my childhood home outside of Boston. I was one of her primary caregivers and watching her pass from ALS was horrible — I felt my body changing from the grief. She passed on January 18, 2020 and I didn't stop to care for myself until after her Celebration of Life in mid-February.
By the time I went to my doctor in Dallas, the cancer had spread to one lymph node, which meant I was going to need chemotherapy. My treatment plan was eight months in total and it included two surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy, and 35 rounds of radiation. There are different subtypes of Breast Cancer (something I did not know until it happened to me) and I had the most common type. Up to 250,000 people a year are diagnosed with the type I had, which was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma ER/PR + HER 2 - (which basically meant that Hormone Therapy was a treatment option for me — which was the best news I could have received the day I got the call).
How did you first become aware of LBBC and what impact has it had on your life?
I found LBBC when I did a search for “Breast Cancer Support Groups” hashtags on Instagram. Unfortunately, this was after I was done with treatment and I wish I had found them earlier. After applying to be a Young Advocate in 2020 and not getting in, I reapplied in 2021 and I was accepted!
The first thing that stood out to me about LBBC is that they truly live by the words "All Ages All Stages." Meaning, as a young cancer survivor I did not feel left out when looking at imagery or reading articles that seem to only cater to women who were much older than me. I found a sense of community and hope through LBBC. Having just completed my active year of advocacy, I now feel confident in telling my story and I feel like I have found my "seat at the Breast Cancer Community table."
Why is this collaboration meaningful to you?
These are two things that are very dear to me — art & advocacy! I love designing rugs; I was an excellent student in my weaving courses while attending F.I.T. in New York City and it was my weaving professor who sent me my first rug design job! Rugs are like a work of art for your floor and they really make a room feel warm and welcoming. Working for Tumble has been one of the most rewarding roles I have had as a designer and I can't wait to see how the company will grow in the coming years.
I really do see my advocacy work as a form of "self-care" and as one of my clients. It feels like I am caring for myself when I care for others. I devote as many extra hours each week to the work I do for LBBC — everything is intertwined. LBBC and my personal experience with breast cancer are a part of my everyday life just as drawing and designing has been for the last 20 years of my career.
Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
In addition to my advocacy work, I also wrote a book while undergoing treatment called The Cancer Calendar. Below is a section taken from the About page on the books site:
“Being an artist, I knew that creating something during this process was going to make it a bit easier to face each day. My husband and I do not have any children and after a cancer diagnosis one starts to think about what you will leave behind — your Living Legacy. I asked myself, ‘In what way can I give back to the Cancer Community?’ The answer was clear — by creating art! On May 16th, 2020, I sat down in my studio and started drawing a calendar of sorts. Black squares drawn with a Sharpie, one for each of the days I was going to be undergoing chemo. Six infusions, three weeks apart for a total of 60 days. Once I saw these squares I realized, 60 days is NOT that long in regard to a lifetime. Seeing that number instantly made me feel like I could conquer chemo and wanted others who have to walk this path to have this same profound feeling of relief. From this realization, I created an illustrative diary/book called The Cancer Calendar.”
At Tumble, we know that life is unpredictable. In fact, we’ve catered our entire brand mission to providing you with a washable rug that adapts to the events in life that you just can’t plan for. But, when you witness those unpredictable moments first-hand, and life seems to be throwing more at you than you can handle, you begin to realize the gravity of certain situations. Being even a small sense of safe space for Kerri throughout a difficult time in her life means a lot to us and it is important that we do our part to uplift and support others at every stage of their breast cancer diagnosis as well.