Book clubs across Laguna Beach have been issued a challenge by the Lit Sisters of Laguna to use their September and October meetings to help local mother Brita Corradini, who is seven months pregnant and receiving chemotherapy for stage 2 breast cancer.
Treatment has exhausted the young family’s financial resources and local giving circle Laguna Beach Womenade is working to offset expenses. Corradini’s husband Andrew and 14-month-old daughter Alabama will be treated this Thursday by Womenade, a grass-roots giving circle that holds potluck dinners where guests write checks directly to a selected person in dire financial need.
In turn, the Lit Sisters, a book club of 10 local women, is encouraging other book clubs to follow their lead and take up a collection to deliver to Mrs. Corradini before she delivers her second child in early November. Any amount is welcome anytime during the next two months.
Womenade co-founder Stephanie Donavan explained Brita’s situation: “After two years of schooling and another year of job hunting, Brita landed her dream job as a pastry chef. With her husband already working as a musician, money was tight but they had found what made them happy. However, a week after her 31st birthday, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
“It started out as a scary diagnosis of breast cancer, snowballed into an overwhelming insurance deductible and taking at least one year off from work,” said Donavan, outlining a regimen of chemotherapy prescribed for Corradini during and after the pregnancy and a lumpectomy or mastectomy expected after the birth. “Breast cancer treatment is difficult enough. Can you imagine having to endure exhaustion, nausea and the painful healing process of surgery while caring for a newborn and a one-year-old?
Lit Sisters member Barbara McMurray commented, “Brita’s situation reads like a gripping fictional novel with a brave heroine, but unfortunately, it’s really happening to her and her family. We encourage everyone in a local book club to discuss Brita’s story at their next meeting, and chip in what they can to help write the next chapter and show her we’re all pulling for her.
“We are not setting a particular dollar amount to meet. Wouldn’t it be terrific if those who are moved by her story and can afford it carried on our close-knit community’s tradition of reaching out to others?” added McMurray.
Donavan said a friend who is a mother of a 5-month-old is pumping and freezing her breast milk to share with Corradini, who will be unable to provide her own. “Now that is community!” she said.
Donavan and neighbor Jane Andersen founded Womenade nine years ago as a “non-nonprofit” that fosters friendships and compassion as it puts cash into the hands of people whose needs are immediate. Womenade gathers a few times a year for potluck dinners where guests socialize and meet the evening’s honoree, and write checks directly to that person generally equal to the cost of dinner out.
The Thursday, Sept. 8 Womenade potluck will be held at 7 p.m. at Stephanie Donavan’s home. Book clubs taking the Lit Sisters challenge and other donors should make checks out to Brita Corradini and mail them to Stephanie Donavan, 435 El Camino del Mar, Laguna Beach 92651. Anyone who would like to attend a Womenade dinner may RSVP by emailing her at [email protected] or calling 497-9214 for complete details.