Our Story

My amazing wife has been a breast cancer survivor for over 12 years. Due to chemo treatments and medicines, she is immunosuppressed and has managed to handle the normal seasonal flu viruses like a champ. But COVID-19 is different, and much more dangerous to people like her who live with a suppressed immune system. I began to think ahead to when the curve has 'flattened' enough where people feel safer and begin returning to their normal routines and social activities - and how she would have to deal with that transition.

Even after that point, without a vaccine, the virus could exist as an ongoing threat to those most vulnerable who may be forced to mingle with the general public again as work and social restrictions are lifted.

I felt it was necessary to try and protect my wife as much as possible for those times when venturing out in public was no longer unavoidable. As a designer, I wondered if there could be an icon or symbol that could communicate to the world that she has a suppressed immune system and would explain to those around her, whether she was aware of their presence or not, why she is behaving in a certain way under certain circumstances - and also give others a chance to alter their interactions even if she didn't make eye contact or speak with them directly. 

 

So, in the same vein as a "Tot Finder" emblem on a home's window, or a "Baby on Board" placard in a car window - I felt that, in our current global state of a highly contagious respiratory virus circulating the country and planet, there could be an equivalent symbol allowing a person to indicate that they are immunosuppressed and at a higher risk of succumbing to the effects of a contracted virus.

The "-i" red circle symbol above has multiple meanings. First and foremost, the color red as an attention grabber and indicator of "STOP!". Beyond that, the text "-i" refers to a less than a 100% level of immunity. The text "-i" also refers to a literal algebraic interpretation of taking oneself (the "i" pronoun) out of the social interaction equation. As far as shape, a circle is universal - but quite frankly, from the beginning I originally envisioned this symbol being most useful as a pin that someone could wear. This way, there were no restrictions on an effective use because a pin can be attached to pretty much any article of clothing, or on a backpack, purse, etc.... pretty much anything that can be stuck by a pin. It also works very well on a T-shirt.

Beyond the minimalistic message of the "-i", I wanted an option for family members to use, too, so I created an addition of nuclear and extended family members options. This way, my wife can stay home while I do some grocery shopping or run an errand, and by wearing a "my wife is immunosuppressed" pin indicate that I am shopping for my wife, or whomever from the different available pin options, and that I'll be diligent in reducing my risk of my exposure to other people and places.

And regarding the name of the web presence; "Stick Together" is pretty straightforward. It refers to someone supporting their family and community, while at the same time referring to the physical aspects of the items.

I also want to take this time to mention the charity I'll be donating a portion of profit from each sale, Camp SunshineCamp Sunshine enriches the lives of Georgia's children with cancer and their families through recreational, educational and support programs. It will be an honor to help contribute to such a great cause. Camp Sunshine provides year-round programs which allow children with cancer and their families to share similar experiences and to participate in activities that promote normal childhood development as they cope with the challenges of childhood cancer.

Thank you for taking the time to read about the origin of Sticktogether.family. Please take a moment to share and spread the 'Stick Together' message and hopefully, together, we can help others protect any immunosuppressed members of their family, and yours! 

Michael Gonyea