News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 28, 2013

PINK: A bagful of comfort

Organization distributes bags of needed items to breast cancer patients, families

TERRE HAUTE — A pink bag is spreading cheer to breast cancer patients this holiday season, and year round.

P.I.N.K. (Passion, Initiative, Need and Knowledge), a local charity that provides support to breast cancer patients and their families, has partnered with local health providers to distribute bags containing objects commonly needed by breast cancer patients.

At the Hux Cancer Center at Union Hospital on Wednesday, pink bags called “P.I.N.K. Comfort Bag” were presented to Union Hospital officials for distribution to patients in the facility.

Items in the pink bag included candy or gum, green tea, animal crackers, water bag, lotion and chapstick, among other items.

These are little items that may mean a lot to breast cancer patients.

P.I.N.K. co-founder Amy Bagnoche said the items inside the P.I.N.K. comfort bags are things that breast cancer patients may need as they go through their treatments.

Some newly-diagnosed patients may not know that they need what’s in the bags, she said.

“So when they do need them, they’re going to have them in their possession,” she added. “No need to buy them. They’re going to have them right there.”

Bagnoche said many people have been supportive of the organization, and “we want to give back to the community” through the effort.

And each item was carefully selected.

“Everything in this bag was hand chosen by cancer survivors,” based on the items they needed when they were going through treatments, said Sarah Norton, P.I.N.K. volunteer and breast cancer survivor.

They were items that survivors felt were “constant go-to things,” she said.

“Hopefully, having it all here ready for them will kind of help out in the process,” Norton added.

Also inside the bag is a letter explaining the chosen items.

“These items are objects we could not have lived through our treatment without,” it said. “We hope they will ease your discomfort as they did ours.”

The green tea, for example, “helps with nausea and is an antioxidant, which helps aid your body in detoxifying. Drink it warm or cold,” the letter said.

The water bag is also important.

“Drink plenty of water. Chemo and radiation dry out the body terribly. Always have water with you,” the letter stated.

Norton pointed out the importance of applying lotion because cancer treatments dry the skin.

“Apply a good quality lotion at least twice a day to entire body. We suggest staying away from scented lotions. Certain scents may not agree with your stomach,” stated the P.I.N.K. Comfort Bag letter.

The bags were distributed Wednesday to three cancer treatment facilities: Providence Medical Center, Terre Haute Regional Hospital and the Hux Cancer Center at Union.

Norton said the bags will be distributed not only to newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients but also to those going through treatments, and even survivors who may request them.

The purpose is to help those who need these supplies, she said.

Sue Jarvis, director of Oncology Services accepted 10 comfort bags on behalf of the Hux Cancer Center of Union Hospital, which provides a full scope of services for cancer patients.

“We’re very thankful for the gift from ... P.I.N.K,” Jarvis said.

“We’re very blessed to have a community that supports the very important work that we do here at Union Hospital cancer program,” she added.

Jarvis said the bags will be taken to the chemotherapy suites and other departments “and from there be distributed to our breast cancer patients.”

“I think the patients will appreciate and welcome these gifts of kindness,” she said.

But this gift is not just for the holidays.

Bagnoche said P.I.N.K. will continue filling and distributing the bags “year-round and for always.”

Local schools, businesses and organizations also helped by donating items that went in the bags.

Some of the fleece blankets, for example, were put together by volunteers from local schools. More donations from the community are welcome and needed, Norton said.

It’s a pink bag showing that people care.

“We hope to help people find comfort in knowing that there are people that have been in their position. While it’s a scary place to be, we want them to know they’re not alone,” Norton said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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