The Julianne Guitar is a guitar that Jason built to honor his aunt who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. All proceeds went to families dealing with the financial burden of cancer. With this guitar and the Josie guitar, we will continue our fight against cancer.
I got a call Saturday evening with upsetting news. My aunt (who is also my Godmother) was diagnosed with breast cancer. Julianne is a 50-year-old mother of two (Erin, who is in college, and Sean, who is in the U.S. Coast Guard). She is married to Tim who flew T-38s in the Air Force. As my dad’s youngest sister, Julianne has seemed almost like a cousin to me aunt than and aunt because she has always seemed a lot younger than her age. Needless to say, it is sitting really heavy with me. Julianne is eternally optimistic and is the type of person that will tell everyone that she is fine and not to worry about her.
This is not Julianne’s first medical challenge. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) about 18 years ago and has learned to live with fatigue as well as numbness in her legs and feet. She of course acts like it’s no big deal. Just something she has to deal with. Now she is facing a mastectomy and chemotherapy to combat cancer. I have seen the challenge of fighting breast cancer having watched a good friend lose his wife to the disease several years ago. I hope that we can make some sort of difference for her and for others fighting breast cancer by raising money for the cause.
The guitar that will be up for auction is one that I built as part of my Ready to Ship (RTS) program. I stained the quilted top pink on the suggestion of my wife. I had no idea the significance that it might have later on. There is an incredible irony in the story. I wrote an email to a representative at www.breastcancer.org to offer the guitar to be put up for auction to raise money for breast cancer. Less than a week later, I learned of my aunt’s diagnosis. I had a weird feeling when I contacted the breast cancer organization. I am not sure why I felt compelled to contact them, it just seemed to make sense and an excellent use of this guitar. I did have a twinge of a feeling that I really hoped no one whom I loved would ever be affected by this disease. I am one usually suspect of those who say they have premonitions, and surely this was just a coincidence, but the purpose of that guitar is now crystal clear. When I talked to Julianne about it she simply said, “It’s a God thing.”
Here is the story from Jason's Aunt Julianne:
"Did you ever hear the expression “Everything Happens for a Reason?” Well, I’m a perfect example. As you will read later, not everyone is so lucky.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 31, with a 3 and 1 yr old at home. I wondered “Why me?” And then I watched as my family rallied and supported me through walk-a-thons and generous donations. I felt blessed to be surrounded by so much love. Then I joined an MS exercise class and an MS yoga class, which are both sponsored by the MS society and free to those of us with the disease. And I once again, felt blessed to be surrounded by such strong willed, non-complaining folks, who accepted their limitations with grace and humor. I have a friend in a wheel chair who asked me if I ever wondered why we got this disease. And my answer was, “So, that I could meet you and all my other MS friends!”
That being said. I was completely blown away when, at age 50, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and told I would have to have a mastectomy, I thought …”Why me?” And again, I received my answer. Once again, my family rallied and supported me. And, once again, I began to be surrounded by other survivors. I affectionately refer to them as my “breast friends”. They, too, like my friends with MS, have had to accept their diagnosis with grace and humor. I am a better person for knowing them. One of my friends had just finished her chemo, after her mastectomy, when she found out that her husband (my daughter’s high school geometry teacher and my son’s math teacher and cross-country coach, who was himself in amazing physical shape) had non-smoker’s lung cancer. At the time, their children were 12 and 5yr old twins. Still weak from chemo, she had to find the strength to help her husband through this dreaded disease. He only survived 6 mos. He was 48 yrs old. I am still waiting for my answer to “Why him?” I don’t know if his wife will ever get her answer.
In the mean time, my nephew, Jason Schroeder, got behind the Breast Cancer awareness idea in an amazing way. He built a custom, pink “Julianne Guitar”. He sold raffle tickets and gave me the thousands of dollars that were raised. I used a portion of that money to pay for my yearly insurance deductible. I would see my widowed breast friend, whose hair was just beginning to grow in, who was dealing with her small children’s grief as well as her own, and I would wonder why I was lucky enough to be a survivor, while her husband was robbed of his young life. Like I said, I didn’t have my answer, but I knew I had to help my friend. What better way than to share the remaining “Julianne Guitar” money with her? Jason donated his talent and his friends and my family and friends donated their money to Breast Cancer awareness. I am never more aware of what this disease does to individuals and their families, than when I see my friend raising her 3 children without a dad, and when I see my friend as she anticipates every 6 mo check up, waiting on pins and needles for her cancer free bill of health.
I know the money raised from the “Julianne Guitar” went to good use. All who donated to the raffle, should take pride in that. (I think it’s ironic that the winner of the guitar is now a breast Cancer survivor herself!)"