Jacqueline DeStefano of West Orange, NJ

Picture of winning bracelet
This month, I am turning 40 which I consider a gift to be celebrated. I have lived a happy and blessed life which I am very grateful for. I was born on June 15, 1968. It was the day before father's day, and my dad said that I was the best gift that my mom could have given him. My story would begin with a symbol of my birth which is the June birthstone (charm #4764).

The next set of charms represents my family which I love so dearly. The second charm would be the Italy (charm #7918). My grandparents came from Italy in the 1920's to start a new life here. We lived upstairs from my paternal grandparents who taught us about our Italian heritage. The next charm is a heart (charm #4608) with my maiden name, Cucci, engraved on it. This represents my mother, father, and two sisters who are always there to love and support each other.

Next, is the US flag (charm #5590). I am proud to be an American. My grandparents always considered the US their country. The order of the Italian charm, heart/family charm, & American flag charm represents my family's pride in our heritage and love for our country.

This next charm represents my childhood. It is a dachshund (charm #1790). My childhood pet was my dog Pretzel. He was named after a children's book that I still have about a dachshund that was so long that he could make himself into a pretzel. He was given to me as an eighth grade graduation present. I loved him very much.

My next charm represents my faith. It is placed in the center of the bracelet because Jesus is the center of my life. It is a cross (charm #4901). The next charm represents the love of my life, my husband Steve. Steve and I started dating when I was still in high school. We have been through many obstacles in life including infertility and cancer, yet our love always grows stronger. Our good times far outweigh our challenges. We have been a couple more that half our lives and recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. The double heart charm (charm #4512) represents our two hearts connected for life.

The next charm is an apple (charm #2110) to represent my career as a special education teacher. I teach young children with learning disabilities. I am now completing my 18th year of teaching. I love my career and the children I teach.

I am a cancer survivor. In 2005, I was diagnosed and treated for advanced stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. I am now 2 ½ years post treatment and doing great! I have learned so much from my disease, the greatest lesson being to enjoy life and to be grateful for every day. I now raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society every year to celebrate the end of my treatment. The survivor ribbon (charm #3801) represents my triumph over cancer.

The last charm on my bracelet is a baby carriage (charm #0646). My husband and I plan to adopt a child and are waiting for a birthmother to choose us. This charm represents hope for the child that I will parent, and the next big stage in my life-motherhood.

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