The Phoenix Zine

New Fashions for the Chronically Ill


In my life, I’ve only had one item of clothing that described any part of my medical experiences. It was a green t-shirt, with a picture of a caterpillar and a butterfly that read: “A new liver… a new life.”

When I was little I used to go with my family to a transplant games day. Every year, they’d hand out the same shirts. Always green for liver, white for bone marrow, yellow for kidney, red for heart and blue for lung. For some reason, they never had proper kids’ sizes so the shirt was always miles too big for me. Eventually I had three or four green nightshirts proclaiming my new life thanks to my liver transplant.

I never wore those t-shirts outside of my house because I didn’t want to face the attention they would bring. On the one hand, I was proud of my experiences, but on the other hand I was ashamed of how different those same experiences made me.

Since then, my view has changed. Having lived my whole life with a chronic illness, I’m learning not to be ashamed of my differences but to embrace them. And, if possible, to find the humour in the challenges of my life.

Hope for Families, where I work, supports my view of chronic illness. And in support of that view, we have developed a store on with three designs for people dealing with chronic illness.

“External defibrillators are for wimps, I keep mine inside” – Nowadays, external defibrillators are everywhere. Deemed more effective than CPR, more and more people use them in an emergency. What better time to talk about internal defibrillators?

“I have 2 sets of DNA, how many do you have?” – People who have had an organ transplant no longer have just their strand of DNA, but also the DNA strand of their donor. Watch for my upcoming post on the top five worst movies about organ transplantions – let’s get some accurate information about organ donation out there!

“I won the lottery… I would have preferred cash” – Being diagnosed with a rare illness is often compared to winning the lottery. However, those who find themselves to be that ‘lucky’ appreciate that luck is double sided at times. The chances of having my illness are 1 in 400,000; what lottery did you win? Rare illnesses can often be overlooked, get the word out about your illness and the challenges you face.

The Hope for Families design is also available so people can show their support for our counselling centre and the work we do with individuals and families dealing with chronic illness.

Laughter is good for your health, and helps create opportunities to talk about taboo health topics. Our shirts are designed to keep the laughs coming and conversation flowing.

And on that note, it is time to announce the first contest of 2009. That’s right folks, The Phoenix Zine wants your chronic illness shirt slogan! Enter here and the winning slogan will be developed by our graphic designer to be added to our store. The winner will receive a shirt with their slogan. Contest closes March 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm EST. Any entries become the property of The Phoenix Zine and Hope for Families. Start brain storming and good luck!

Leave a Reply