by Sarah Stuart
Midvale resident, Shellie Colvard is a woman of many talents and one of those talents is designing breast cancer survivors medals. Of the 12 she has received for being a survivor of breast cancer, she has helped designed five of those medals. She first got involved in the designing process after a conversation with her radiation oncologist, Dr. Sarah Bolender. The medals are distributed annually to breast cancer patients, friends, and family. They are also given to survivors who participate in the Susan B Komen Race for the Cure in Boise.
Colvard collaborated with Bolender for the first time to create the 2013 Breast Cancer Survivors medal. The image displayed on the medal is a dragonfly with the pink ribbon which represented breast cancer awareness artfully incorporated in the wings. On the back of the medal is the message “A Gift From Dr. Sarah Bolender.” According to Colvard, the dragonfly was Bolender's idea and Colvard helped her turn her idea into a reality.
For the 2014 medal, Ginkgo Leaves are displayed with the pink ribbon incorporated over the top. This was the year Colvard and Bolender began writing an inscription on the back of the medals describing what the design on the front was meant to represent. At the bottom of each description over the years was still the phrase “A gift from Dr. Sarah Bolender.” Colvard has a ginkgo tree in her front yard which she claims inspired the design of the medal. In the inscription on the back of the medal, it states that the ginkgo leaf represents survivorship, “historically representing hope, peace, longevity, resilience, and strength.”
The 2015 medal has a playful frog sitting on a lily pad complete with a pink water lily flower. Beside the frog, a pink ribbon is displayed and one of the spots on the frog is in the shape of a heart. On the back of the medal, the inscription states that the frog symbolizes “acceptance and patience in undergoing life's transitions while embracing personal transformations.”
In 2017 design, the medal is a beautiful Celtic knot with the pink ribbon integrated into the knot design set against a white background. On back of the medal, part of the inscription states that the Celtic knot “embodies the interconnected balance in life and community.” Colvard stated that an interest in genealogy among the design collaborators helped inspire the design of the medal.
A crane graces the front of the 2019 medal with the pink ribbon draped across the crane's neck. The inscription of the back of the medal begins by stating “Across many centuries and many cultures the Crane stands alone as a symbol of hope, strength, and longevity.” In 2019, they decided to remove the word “Boise” from the medal design because the local Susan B Komen now covers Idaho and Montana.
From beginning of the design process to sending the design of the medal to be forged takes three to four months. The design always has the pink ribbon somewhere incorporated and the year is also on the medal. Colvard's designing process is always done by hand, no computer involved.
When Colvard isn't designing medals, she is busy running Surviving Hearts, a non profit organization ran by volunteers whose mission it is to help ease burdens cancer patients and survivors might encounter. She has also been instrumental in the building of the MSTI respite house in Fruitland, ID. She has a strong passion to help those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the lifestyle changes they will have to make. She is definitely an asset to those she helps as well as our community.