Julia Butera wants to spread hope to as many people as she can.
Butera, a Wayne resident, is a former director of production for a fashion company. She commuted everyday into New York City and worked about 10 hours a day before coming home to her husband and young son, Adam. She often traveled to India, negotiating clothing costs and visiting factories.
Then she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in November 2010. Butera went through six months of chemotherapy and spent a lot of time home recovering. She has been in remission since September.
The time away from work allowed her to reassess her life and priorities.
“I always thought I’d be setting a good example for my son by working hard and at the same time, I was never home,” Butera said. “And sitting behind a desk designing T-shirts isn’t really making a difference, but hopefully this will.”
During her recovery, Butera made jams at home to pass the time. She eventually quit her job and started her own company, called hope. health. joy., to help others fight cancer.
Butera has developed a line of five jams from receipies she created. She donates 75 percent of the proceeds from the sale of each jar to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The society funds research efforts around the world in an attempt to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. The rest of the money goes into producing more jam.
Now, Butera regularly volunteers her time at , where Adam is a student. She enjoys being home and involved in his life and seeing her family more. The company also sponsors her son’s floor hockey team at the .
Butera chose the words for the name of her company carefully and for specific reasons.
She said the doctors at Hackensack University Medical Center gave her hope. She wants people to never take their good health for granted.
“You need to give people hope, especially people who are battling cancer,” Butera said. “Being joyful, it’s so much more than happiness. Joy can bring so much happiness into someone’s life.”
The all-natural jams and preserves come in five varieties: Grape, Raspberry and Brandy, Cinnamon Pear, Bordeaux Wine and Raspberry. For information, visit the company’s Web site or Facebook page. Butera said she might offer teas and other products in the future.
More than anything, Butera wants her sweet endeavor to get people to examine their lives and ask the question: Am I really happy doing what I’m doing?
“I just want people to take a step back and look at their lives and what’s around them,” Butera said. “I never did that. It’s a shame that it took something like cancer to wake me up.”