The Joy of Chocolate: From Breast Cancer Survivor & Chocolatier, Mary Leonard.

Beautiful. Luxurious. Joyful.

Mary Leonard uses these three words to describe chocolate. Specifically, the chocolate that she makes at Chocolat Céleste in St. Paul, where she founder and chocolatier.

But beauty, luxury, and joy are not easy to find when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatments, as Mary was earlier this year. She was doing OK with her diagnosis and prognosis until a confirmed BRCA2 mutation forced her to consider the double mastectomy her doctor was recommending.

“I felt like the path I had chosen – lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation – were sufficient,” Mary begins. “I reached out to Firefly Sisterhood at that point in search of a Firefly Guide.” She wanted to talk with someone else who had been in her situation and chosen not to have a bilateral mastectomy.

“My Guide gave me the confidence to talk to my doctor and push (my doctor) towards discussion with a geneticist,” Mary shares. “This led to very recent groundbreaking research on BRAC2 mutation carriers and mastectomies . . . and I have gone forward with my original plan.”

Throughout the scary and uncertain past few months, Mary has found beauty, luxury, and joy in making fine chocolates and sharing them with others. “Mine is the chocolate of someone who doesn’t compromise on the quality of the cacao (the chocolate) and the ingredients,” Mary states proudly. “I truly want people to experience the real flavor of chocolate and increase their enjoyment of it.”

To do so, Mary recommends allowing her fine chocolate to fully melt in your mouth to discover the subtle nuances of the cacao fruit. “The flavor can last over 45 minutes because of the high amount of cacao in my chocolates,” Mary points out. Her premium chocolates contain 64% and 70% cacao and no preservatives.

She describes how “fine chocolate actually affects the brain chemistry, changing your dopamine and serotonin levels.” These two chemicals affect your well-being and, according to Mary, “Chocolate can have a calming effect!”

Mary has found a creative way to give back to the local organizations – such as Firefly – that have helped her through her breast cancer experience. Mary has created a special collection of chocolates (in various sizes) with our signature firefly on them, and she will be donating 20% of the proceeds from the sale of each box from this limited edition collection (only available in November) to help us continue to match women with breast cancer to volunteer peer mentors

At Firefly, we could melt into oblivion with these amazing chocolates. As Mary suggests, “If you or someone you know is suffering, especially during this difficult time, share fine chocolate with them. Spread joy and happiness by giving to others!”

Order from the Firefly Sisterhood chocolate collection HERE and your order will be ready to pick-up within 24 hours or shipped Priority or Express anywhere in the United States in less than 3 days. 20% of every Firefly Sisterhood Collection purchase supports our mission: to ensure that women in our community do not face breast cancer alone.

A tremendous shout out to Mary Leonard at Chocolat Céleste for sharing her story and giving back to the breast cancer community!

Written by Amy Tix, Firefly staffer and breast cancer survivor who eats chocolate. Every. Single. Day. Actually, who admits, unashamedly, to eating chocolate at every meal. Who hides chocolate from her kids. Who confesses to a teeny tiny chocolate addiction . . .

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