Caretaker Backer - Michele Riley
6 months ago
– Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 01:40:13 AM
This process of being a Caretaker to the Warehouse 13 board game has become so special and meaningful, I have to share my back story with you all:
I’m a huge fan of Warehouse 13. I thought the series was so creative and intelligent and thought provoking. The actors were amazing and precious. I love the term, “Endless Wonder” and look for that in every day life.
I have always believed that happiness is a choice you make, not a destination reached by a selected group of people. I’m basically a happy person. Not because I have such an especially happy life, that is definitely not the case. But I simply choose to be happy. Starting in grade school, I was given the nickname “Smiley Riley”. This name has prevailed throughout my adult life in various social circles. With friends, coworkers, and most significantly in my role as cancer patient at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. I was diagnosed in 2007 with a rare chronic leukemia, Myelofibrosis.
In 2007, there was no treatment or cure. The hope was that it would progress really slowly and I could live another 15-20 years. In 2014, I started seeing a new oncologist that specializes in research with my exact cancer. I thought of him as my Endless Wonder Guy (Warehouse 13 had ended months before and I was still enthralled with the finale and that phrase). He was, from day 1, determined to change the trajectory of my disease. He had all these new ideas and offered me so much hope.
The first study drug helped for a while but started waning in spring 2017. In July 2017 I entered into a new clinical drug trial for my disease. As I told people about the new trial, they would say, “You are always so happy, I forget you have cancer”. On September 6, 2017 I was at an all day Cancer Clinic appointment day. I had lab work, CT scan, Bone Marrow Biopsy and appointments with my doctor and research nurse. While I was waiting, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw the post about the Warehouse 13 board game and the Kickstarter campaign. I was immediately on board!
I am a nurse at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and I love to work as a mission nurse in Honduras. Because I had started the clinical trial, I was unable to serve on the September 2017 mission trip as previously planned. The trial requires frequent labs and my doctor did not want me out of the country in the first 6 months. I had already put money aside to self fund the trip and this is why I was able to immediately pledge the amount for Caretaker.
I was daydreaming about my artifact all day! I thought of objects while I laid on the table for my scan. I thought of themes as the Nurse Practitioner poked a big needle in my hip bone to get bone marrow and a chunk of my bone for analysis. It was the best distraction ever for a very long 6 hours at Cancer Clinic.
Weeks later my team informed me of the results from that biopsy. They said with beaming faces, “Smiley Riley, you are now in remission”. After 11 years, I am cancer free!! I have truly forgotten all my troubles. I am full of Endless Wonder and that is why this artifact and the process has become so meaningful and poignant.
In October I turn 50 and I am going to spend it serving on a mission trip in..... IRELAND! My first visit to Irish soil. My Irish Eyes are definitely smiling now!!
Thank you for this special opportunity!!
AKA Smiley Riley
Caretaker Artifact - Smiley Riley
6 months ago
– Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 01:38:20 AM
Smiley Riley is a doll passed through generations of the Riley family. Made in Ireland in the early 1900s, Smiley Riley has the traditional Irish features of pale skin and light eyes. The Irish are known for their smiling eyes, or bright eyes that have a special twinkle. If you look at Smiley, you perceive her as smiling, but her painted mouth has only a hint of a smile. It is her twinkling eyes that are what draw you into her happy world.
There is a well known song called “When Irish Eyes are Smiling" that describes the special powers of Irish Eyes. One line in the chorus states, “When Irish Eyes are smiling, sure, they’ll steal your heart away.” Generations of Rileys relate many stories about how Smiley Riley possesses the ability to make you forget your troubles. For example, when placed near the bedside of an ailing family member, that person quickly forgets their suffering and becomes happy and full of hope. But sometimes Smiley Riley makes you feel so happy that your mind wanders into extended daydreams of Endless Wonder. She can make you forget to do important things, like eat or go to work. Smiley Riley needs to be displayed with care.