Candles, Cupcakes and Connections for Breast Cancer Awareness
Melissa Johnson founded her businesses realizing there’s more to desserts – and now, candles – than just delicious taste or welcoming aromas.
There’s a story in every product at Oh My Cupcakes! and the Sweet Cream Candle Company, and she realizes during October, there’s a chance to take those stories further to raise awareness for breast cancer and honor survivors.
“We’ve done our special Ms. Kim cupcake in October for as long as I can remember, but this year, we decided to go bigger and offer it every day, all month long,” said Johnson. “We also started the Ms. Kim candle, and we’re happy to see it is drawing attention.”
Johnson donates funds from both of her businesses to cancer research, treatment and awareness, including $5 from every candle sold to Avera Cancer Institute programs.
“For several years, Avera foundations have stood behind ‘think pink’ efforts to support breast cancer awareness,” said Kellie Yackley, Community Giving Officer for the Avera Foundation. “We’re pleased to see other businesses throughout the Avera footprint join with us in these efforts. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I find it very meaningful when people take the time to stop and consider the challenging and life-changing journey of cancer patients and encourage others to take steps of prevention, like scheduling an annual mammogram.”
The Stories Behind the Products
The cupcake known as the Ms. Kim was created to honor Johnson’s late sister-in-law. In 1994, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38.
“She died before she was 40,” Johnson said. “So we now honor her, and with our donations, we’re trying to lift up all these advancements in care, in treatment and imaging in the years since she passed away.”
Johnson began Oh My Cupcakes! 12 years ago, and celebrates the first anniversary of Sweet Cream Candle Company this month. Like with her cupcakes, she likes to make sure you understand the narrative root of every candle.
The Ms. Kim Candle Story
Danel Vogel and son Beckett
Danel Vogel hand pours every candle at the business, and she’s a breast cancer survivor. When she was 32, she was 11 weeks pregnant and got her cancer diagnosis. She needed – and received – treatment, including chemotherapy with Avera Cancer Institute. Her son, Beckett, was born healthy at full-term.
“Danel’s story is amazing, and it’s one of many that we want to lift up – we want to see more of these success stories,” Johnson said. “The photo of her with Beckett, her son, with his full head of hair, and her with none – it’s one of the most moving images I know.”
The story of the candle continues to its lot number. The Ms. Kim candle – a soy-wax hand-poured variation – has the number 1208, which reflects on Vogel’s birthdate. Yackley said business leaders like Johnson demonstrate how altruism makes a difference.
“We’re honored by Melissa’s generosity to Avera’s cancer programs and our patients – it’s quite a blessing,” Yackley said. “She epitomizes the idea of businesses with deep community roots giving back to those who support them.”
Moving People to Act
The legion lovers of Oh My Cupcakes! don’t hold back when they hear word of the fact the Ms. Kim cupcake is returning to the store. “It’s the favorite of a lot of people, and that’s why we wanted to go big with it this year,” Johnson said. “We also wanted to add another layer – or three.”
The Ms. Kim cupcake is nearly an angel-food cake like base, with plenty of lightness and air in its center. It’s actually a pink velvet cake with a pink vanilla-bean buttercream frosting. Right now, you can order the Ms. Kim as a three-layer cake that serves 10-12 people. Sales of the cake – just like the cupcake – support the cause of breast cancer mindfulness.
“We’re excited to share the cake this year, along with the cupcake and the candle. They’re all part of our efforts to raise awareness – as well as action,” Johnson said. “We know these stories of people breast cancer has affected are important, and we hope our contributions help others.”
Mammograms are the gold-standard exam to prevent breast cancer. Learn how you can get yours scheduled.