|Comfy chilling outside the Massey Center via my Instagram.|
|Comfy's tour bus; A page from the Giving Comfort Words book; Comfy and me laughing it out!|
|Words of comfort by caregivers and visitors|
|Comfy and the "red jean" patient; Dr., his son, and Comfy; the comfort cart; Comfy and a nurse; Comfy's feet;|
The Giving Comfort Care Kit
Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and see life as it is for those around us; complete strangers and sometimes less fortunate. Mine is not peaches and cream by any stretch of my wildest imagination, but I am blessed to be healthy and energetic enough to do things when I want. But that's not everyone's reality, sadly. So many people are stricken with illness they can't control and have no understanding of its genesis. Cancer is that one that just sucks. Everything about it. It's like one of the plagues in the Bible. It's everywhere. There was a time when it was shocker to hear someone say 'I have cancer.' Now our shock is more about how long treatment is going to be versus the actual news. And there was a time when not everyone was personally affected by its prowl.
But I think it's safe to say we're ALL affected by this horrible, mean disease. Unfortunately, we all know someone, if not yourself, that's living with cancer. I never thought I'd be one who knew many close to me. But now that's my reality.
When my youngest brother introduced me to his now fiancée 8 years ago, I was shocked. She was 21 and had cancer. How? She was in chemo and radiation. She was bald and wearing a bandana the first time we met. I looked at my brother and just hugged him. What a courageous kid at 22 to take that on. But loves knows no boundaries. And she fought it.
But so many don't. Not because they're not able; it's just the journey they were meant to be on.
In the last year alone I've seen my cousin and her husband care for his mother who had breast cancer and decided to have them removed. I saw my mother care for dear, dear Wilson, whom at 91 was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died just last spring. He's death still moves my entire family. His last 2 months were painful to watch. But at least he lived a full life. And then a young friend of mine just had hers removed because they found cancer. That was just one month ago. And in that same month, another dear friend buried her mother who lost her battle with it. And just two weeks ago yet another dear family friend's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's having hers removed, too. And just last week, a sweet, precious little 5 year old from my church lost his battle. His little friend Mattie was fighting alongside and survived. I can't possibly understand what's she feeling. But her mother is torn.
There are a number of other men and women I know of that are suffering through and fighting this beast with all their might. Probably too many to name.
But it's everywhere. And to the extent these courageous souls are dealing with the reality of their illness, there's also comfort for them.
Last Friday, on a super gloomy day in DC, and after one of my busiest weeks ever, I threw on some flats, a maxi skirt, hair all wet still, and drove down to Richmond to spend the day with Giving Comfort, a non-profit organization sponsored by the McKesson Foundation, dedicated to enrich the lives of low-income cancer patients receiving treatment. Through Comfy, their larger than life happy blue pill mascot, they go from cancer center to center, nationwide and hand out fun and comforting care and comfort packages.
I saw more happy faces from children to adults and elderly light up when Comfy came around to hug and hand out bags full of simple yet touching tokens of affection than I have at a kids playground after school. The tenderness in which the care packages are delivered is mentionable. Each one is filled with essentials like blankets, games, a diary, socks, amenities, books to read and more. The purpose is simple: to make patients comfortable during an uncomfortable time.
We moved from wing to wing at the Massey Cancer Center at VCU and chatted with these happy people! All smiles and all ready to engage with comfy, I felt the sincerity in their mission to just put them at ease while receiving treatment. I may not understand it, but I felt their appreciation and joy.
After handing out the days' goodies which the Massey Center does daily, the real sentimental moment came. Caregivers, Drs and nurses gathered in the lobby and shared personal stories and offered lovely words of encouragement to the patients. Some cried as they delivered their sweet message. Others laughed saying "I've been there!" It was all recorded. And then a few of use shared our thoughts on paper for them to enjoy in a little blue book which will be published at the end of the tour.
I'm glad I wrote something down. Someone will hopefully smile when they read my little note.
There's something we can all do! 22% of patients exhaust all savings in treatment. Another 11% can barely afford the absolute basics. A drive to a center, an afternoon with patients, spreading the word about organizations like this. Something.
Comfy is on his 1st national tour on his totally whipped up and custom designed bus! He left Richmond and headed for Atlanta where he spent today!
Follow his moves on Tumblr where's getting the hang of social media! And if you're so inclined, check out Giving Comfort's site and consider a donation which will go 100% to providing these fun and necessary comfort kits. They have one for the fellas, the ladies, the boys and girls! Even the tweens!
You can also learn way more about their mission and how they make it all happen. I was humbled and just enamored with their campaign and enthusiasm in traveling the country to give out something so simple yet so meaningful.
Do something outside of the box. Spread love and good cheer! Love! It makes the world a healthier and happier place.