A Down-To-Earth Organization That Is All About Hope

On A Mission To Help Breast Cancer Patients

On the Wings of Hope

Inspired by her work at the Breast Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Erin Prendergast, RN, has established a unique organization to bring hope and encouragement to breast cancer patients, their families and friends, and survivors. Called On Butterflies Wings, this “down-to-earth” organization will help support the breast care program fund at Texas Health Dallas. InTouch_Spring_2011-5

Dallas Nurse Spreads Message of Hope to Breast Cancer Patients One Butterfly at a Time.

Lisa Young stands on the porch of her Prosper home with her teenage daughter

Madison. A cool fall breeze brushes her face, but feels refreshing after a long day

at work. ` Inside her cupped hands rests a brilliantly colored monarch butterfly,

which has recently become a personal symbol of her battle with Stage II breast

cancer. ` As she gazes at the peaceful butterfly, a gift from a special friend, Lisa

reflects on the past few days that she and her family have waited in anticipation

for the butterfly to emerge from its intricately wound chrysalis. ` With a little

encouragement from her daughter, Lisa realizes she is ready to let go – not only of

the butterfly, but of the feelings of fear, anxiety and disbelief built up in the months

since she received her cancer diagnosis. ` “The butterfly is ready to spread its

wings,” she tells herself. “And so am I.”

When Lisa first found a lump in her left breast, she immediately consulted with Dr. Eugene Hunt, III, an OB/GYN on the medical staff of Texas Health Dallas, and her employer for more than 20 years. Dr. Hunt referred Lisa to the Peggy A. Bell Women’s Diagnostic and Breast Center for a diagnostic mammogram, sonogram and breast biopsy.

At the Breast Center, Lisa crossed paths with Erin Prendergast, a part-time registered nurse, who had also been a professional and personal acquaintance of hers for many years. Lisa found comfort in the conversations she had with Erin during her appointments about what to expect with her diagnosis, and more importantly, how to keep hope alive in the midst of such despair.

“Erin really listened to me and she cared,” Lisa explained. “She was so encouraging. I really needed someone to lift me up when I felt like everything was crumbling around me.” One day while at work, Lisa received a message that a gift had been left at the reception desk for her. Much to Lisa’s surprise, Erin had brought her a pink basket with encouraging poems and sayings and a tiny butterfly chrysalis with instructions on how to create her own butterfly garden.

“I was so touched by her kindness. I took the basket home and showed it to my husband and daughter,” Lisa said. “We all thought it was so beautiful and creative. Caring for the butterfly really made me stop and think about how I can’t dwell on what could be. I have to do whatever I can to have a normal life.”

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” (Author Unknown)

On a Mission of Hope
Through her work at the Breast Center, Erin noticed a pattern of distress in patients waiting for diagnostic test results. “Most of my patients say to me, ‘If I have cancer, I can deal with it. If I don’t, I want to move past this. I just need to know what it is, one way or another,’” Erin explains. “Waiting is the hardest part for them. They begin playing out all of the possible scenarios. There are so many uncertainties at that point.”

Erin wanted to find a way to bring hope and encouragement to breast cancer patients and the survivors she has met in the four years she has worked at the Breast Center. In 2010, Erin, a certified Dallas County Master Gardener, merged two of her passions: helping breast cancer patients and butterfly gardening. She founded On Butterflies Wings, a “down-to-earth” organization on a mission of hope. “To me, the lifecycle of a butterfly is very similar to what our breast cancer patients face when they receive that initial phone call regarding an issue with their mammograms,” Erin explained. “In the beginning, the journey is uncertain.

Through their own metamorphoses, I think our patients come out of their experiences better, stronger and more beautiful people than before.” Through On Butterflies Wings, Erin sells several garden-related products, including: live butterfly chrysalis baskets, organic seed balls, and personalized note cards featuring her own photography collection and words of encouragement. Erin is working with local artisans to develop other product lines.

texas-health-dallasA portion of the proceeds from the sales of the On Butterflies Wings products will benefit the breast care program fund at Texas Health Dallas held by Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation.

The products are sold at local retailers (list on page 5) and on her website’s online store. Erin markets her products as inspirational gifts for: friends, loved ones, teachers, and birthdays, those grieving the loss of a loved one and even as a teaching tool for children.

Sowing Seeds in Community:breast-cancer-dallas-obw

Erin is also spreading her mission of hope to youngsters at local schools and churches. Recently, she taught classes at Good Shepherd Episcopal School, St. Patrick Catholic Church and Greenhill School in Dallas and Daffron Elementary School in Plano to show students how they can use their talents and interests for the good of others. As part of the lesson, students make organic seed balls using native seeds, compost and water.

“I want to show these little ones that they can use the hands God gave them to help others they may never meet, but will touch in a special way,” Erin said. Good Shepherd Episcopal School even adopted a community service project to help On Butterflies Wings’ cause. Called “Seeds of Hope,” the program encourages students to collect terracotta pots and seeds for breast cancer patients. In return, Erin has helped the school create a butterfly garden.

“The project was a huge lesson for me and for the students,” Erin said. “I saw how a community can work together to make something small seem really, really big. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with these students and for their support of On Butterflies Wings.”

 Taking Flight:

erin-gives-lesson In just under a year since she launched On Butterflies Wings, with the help of her sister Maureen, Erin has already sold dozens of baskets, note cards and seed balls in the Dallas community. She says she is overwhelmed by how people have embraced her products and the mission of the organization.

“I hear from so many women who are going through breast cancer treatment and survivors who are inspired by the mission of On Butterflies Wings,” she said. “Hearing that feedback really touches me, because that is what I’m here to do – give people hope.”

Erin has also received local recognition for her work. She was one of a handful of finalists nominated for a Community Service Award at Texas Health Dallas. Her work was also featured at a Magnet Award meeting led by Cole Edmonson, MS, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Texas Health Dallas.

“Erin is a powerful and positive role model for all of us in the nursing profession,” Cole said. “She is the finest example I have seen in professional nurses, who truly blends the art and science of such a noble profession. I am honored to practice with such a great colleague.”

Lisa could not agree more. “I am so thankful that I know Erin,” she said. “I still have a ways to go on my journey, but she gave me two of the greatest gifts to help me through – our continued friendship and hope.”

  • Subscribe & Stay Tuned with Latest

  • Erin’s Photographs!

  • The Mission of Hope Continues …

    ON BUTTERFLIES WINGS continues to be blessed with volunteers who believe in the mission of HOPE! Today, 11-year cancer survivor and friend, Linda Alexander, presented ON BUTTERFLIES WINGS with hand-made, knitted hats that she made AND a box of various hats in different sizes and styles because hats were a very important part of her recovery. She says, "Each hat was made (including every stitch) as a gift back for every loving person who lifted her up" during her cancer journey. ON BUTTERFLIES WINGS will insure her hats and her heart❤️ are shared with love....
  • Bible Verses

    Loading Quotes...