Local artist uses woodworking skill to fight back against cancer

Jacquie Rowe next to one of her original LumberJacq creations, made from repurposed wood.

Adam Prudhomme

Jacquie Rowe is a mom of two boys, a wife, a teacher and artist-who also happens to be in the midst of a nearly three-year long battle with Stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma.

Though her cancer diagnosis has had a major impact on her life, the Greater Napanee-based artist is so much more than her illness. To that end, she’s been using her woodworking skills to not only give herself purpose through her journey, but also as a means of giving back.

“I found that as a cancer patient, you kind of have this need to not be just a cancer patient,” said Rowe. “You want to have more purpose than that. One time I was just making my own Christmas décor. I posted about it on Facebook and that post just exploded and people said ‘I want some, I want some, I’ll buy some.’ I thought this will be a neat way to fill some time, the rest is kind of history.”

From that post, Lumberjacq was born, her own line of one-of-kind wooden creations. Rowe specializes in repurposing architectural salvage, turning them into unique home décor.

“My dad came up with the name and initially I thought it was just a bad dad joke, but then I thought actually, that’s brilliant,” said Rowe, noting the brand name is a play on her nickname, Jacq. “It’s going to stick and people will remember it, so it’s lumberjack, with a Q.”

Rowe works in the shop when her body allows, sometimes needing a few days rest at a time. By in large however, her hobby appears to be having a positive impact.

“I wanted to keep myself busy,” she said. “Even my doctors said whatever you’re doing, mentally, physically, keep doing it because it seemed to be healthy for me. Even mentally avoiding going into any state of depression or what have you, just really good for my mental well being to keep myself busy.”

That positive attitude has been crucial for her as doctors have branded her cancer as ‘chemo tolerant.’ Her journey so far has included five different rounds of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation and stem cell transplant. She is set for another scan in January to determine the next course of action.

Despite everything on her plate, Rowe still wanted to give back to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, which she says has been a huge resource in her cancer journey.

“I can’t build a lot, I get pretty tired still,” said Rowe. “It’s a pretty sought after item to get a Lumberjacq piece, so a lot of people asked can you make me a t-shirt so I can support you? I just want a t-shirt, I want something Lumberjacq. I always knew merchandise was in the long-range plans, but it felt a little odd to be profiting off of merchandise isn’t really what I sell, I sell wood art. So I thought maybe that’s my chance to give back to the cancer community.”

Proceeds from the sale of Lumberjacq t-shirts go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.

T-shirts adorned with a lumberjack axe sold out quickly, with $500 in proceeds donated to the society. Another order of shirts is due in the new year.

“I really liked their mission statement, it starts by saying something like we won’t stop until there’s a cure,” said Rowe of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. “As a cancer patient to know that there’s people out there that are not stopping until a cure is found, that’s pretty significant to someone like myself.”

Rowe’s work and a link to order a t-shirt can be found at https://lumberjacq.ca/.

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