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Lymphoma Survivor Uses Chocolate to Raise Awareness

Posted by lynnesmith in The LLS Blog, 17 September 2014 · 48 views

Love chocolate? Want to support the fight against blood cancers?

It might not seem the most logical connection but for Heather Johnston, using chocolate to bring attention to Blood Cancer Awareness Month makes perfect sense.

Owner of a Chicago-based boutique chocolate company, Veruca Chocolates, Johnston has created a limited edition key lime bonbon collection - $10 for a box of four - to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Illinois chapter. Even though she is based in Chicago, she sells online and can deliver anywhere in the U.S.

More than a fundraising effort, this collection represents Johnston's mission to give back to an organization that provided comfort and support during her own struggle with lymphoma in 1990.

During her sophomore year at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She returned to Chicago to be with family during her treatment, juggling class, chemotherapy and support group meetings for the next two years. Inspired by the compassionate care she received, Heather abandoned her fine arts studies to focus on medicine. She graduated from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and became a pediatrician and faculty member at the University of Chicago.

She soon discovered pediatrics wasn't the career of her dreams after all and prepared for yet another life change. On a break from work, Johnston enrolled in a chocolate course at The French Pastry School to indulge her creative (and chocolate-loving) side, and discovered an entirely different way to provide comfort and heal the spirit. She incorporated Veruca Chocolates in June 2011 and has been melting hearts and filling bellies ever since.

Sales of the Blood Cancer Awareness Month bonbons are going well and Johnston has already decided that this year's will be the first in an annual series of collections to benefit LLS.

Supporters can also donate directly to LLS during Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
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