Release Date: 05/18/2016
In 2006, Rehoboth artist and breast cancer survivor Sherrill Hunnibell launched the “In Her Shoes” project as a tribute to women with cancer and to give back to the Women & Infants Hospital Program in Women’s Oncology, which she credits with helping her through a dark period in her life.
A decade later, the unique shoes Hunnibell has crafted in her studio have raised funds for the Program and the spirits of anyone who sees them in the display case in the Women & Infants Murray Family Infusion Center. The first three – a restyled woman’s pump, a short boot, and a flip flop – are decorated and reimagined by Hunnibell to be symbolic of the emotionally and physically painful journey a woman takes with cancer.
She uses anonymous shoes for her creations “because they are a reminder that illness, especially cancer, can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime.” She’ll add images she feels symbolize life’s positive energies and meanings, feathers, lace, faux flowers and other adornments to relay a message of hope.
For “Reboot,” the 2007 boot Hunnibell created, she crafted a collage showcasing the footwear with snippets of quotes submitted by women attending session with the Integrative Care Program. Other objects from patients were tucked deep inside the boot, which symbolizes the constant need to “reboot” our lives to bring love into our bodies, minds and spirits.
In 2009, she created “Flip-Flop! Notes to Myself” which features a pair of bright flip flops sandwiched bottoms together around an assortment of sealed personal notes submitted by women at breast cancer events.
“The piece speaks to the confusion and imbalance in both mind and spirit that we as women can often experience when we are ill,” Hunnibell explains.
Each of the first three installations in the series was sponsored by anonymous donors, with funds going to Women & Infants’ Integrative Care Program to finance therapies for women with cancer.
Hunnibell has created two new pieces that await sponsorship.
• “The Dance,” features two of ballet slippers – one adult sized and one child - set on their toes and adorned with feather wings, pears and ribbon. The images and objects featured on the slippers, Hunnibell says, “symbolize our deepest and most delicate emotions, the love and support we receive from others, and the fleeting passage of time.”
• “No Boundaries,” the most recently created piece, was crafted from an anonymous ruby red slipper similar to the one worn by Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” Named after the brand on the inside of the shoe, this “reminds us that our spirits have no boundaries, even in illness,” Hunnibell explains. “Our hopes and dreams can soar over the rainbow in new and unexpected ways.”
The Integrative Care Program is self-sustaining and relies on grants and fundraisers to remain viable, according to Director Sandra Scuncio. The Program includes all the complementary therapies that help women cope with their cancer diagnosis and treatment, such as:
- Pet therapy.
- Lymphedema services.
- Nutritional guidance.
- Poetry writing.
The therapies are offered to cancer patients in the hospital as well as at offsite locations in Providence, South Kingstown and Middletown.
“Integrative care is a form of creative healing,” says Hunnibell, who taps into several therapies in her healing process. “Often, it’s not possible to cure someone but you can heal them, enrich them, enliven their spirit.”
For more information on sponsoring one of these two shoes, call the Integrative Care Program at (401) 274-1122, ext. 47285.
About Women & Infants Hospital
Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.
Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.