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Human Interest

North Carolina Woman Known as the ‘Sparkle Lady’ Dies After Breast Cancer Battle: ‘She Was Amazing,’ Says Dad

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Robyn Adams and her father, Frank DeLuise

The world lost a little bit of shine this past weekend when the woman known as the “Sparkle Lady” died in hospice after a long battle with breast cancer.

“They were managing the cancer for awhile and then within the last month it just took over. It spread to her bones, her liver and lungs,” Robyn Adams’ father, Frank DeLuise, tells PEOPLE.

When Adams first started chemo treatments for Stage 4 breast cancer, she showed up like most patients, dressed comfortably, wearing a sweatsuit.

But after her first round of chemo in May 2015, Adams, who was the head of an early learning center, decided to change things up.

“I thought, ‘I have all this jewelry, I need to wear it. I shouldn’t be dressed for doom and gloom, I need to come dressed for a party,’ ” she told PEOPLE in January 2106.

So Adams began what she called “The Sparkle Project.”

The 48-year-old single mother of three started wearing heels and picking out pieces of jewelry the night before each scheduled appointment at the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I decided to wear my jewelry and sparkle because cancer can’t take that away. It can take a lot of things away, but it can’t take that away,” she said.

“I just wanted to bring a little sparkle to everybody,” she continued. “Hopefully, it makes us feel a little better when we’re here. I just feel if you come doom and gloom, you’re gonna feel that way. So if you sparkle, it makes it just a little better.”

And she wanted to make sure others sparkled, too. She would collect jewelry from friends and loved ones and hand deliver them to fellow patients as they were all getting chemo treatments.

After her story appeared on PEOPLE.com, her dad says she started receiving jewelry from across the country.

“And she would inspect every piece to make sure it wasn’t broken before wrapping it and then giving it away to another woman. She loved doing it,” he says.

 

In fact, she continued to help other cancer patents find their sparkle up until just a few weeks ago.

“She was amazing. She was getting an infusion four weeks ago and saw a lady getting sick and walked over and gave her a piece. We always took the sparkle bag with us. Right to the end she was doing it.”

Robyn’s dad, who also volunteers as a chemo buddy at LCI, helps with The Sparkle Project and started a GoFundMe page in her honor.

The family held a funeral on Wednesday and say they will continue her work in her honor.

“She wanted to do it, she wanted to give the women something to smile about,” her dad says.