One cancer survivor to anotherFilling hearts and lives, one bag at a timea BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR Local cancer survivors put together bags of love for patients just starting treatment at Providence Regional Cancer Partnership. “If you take each challenge one step at a time, with faith in every footstep, your strength and understanding will increase.”
That is a quote from James E. Faust and Tracy Anderson, a Lake Stevens Kiwanian, past Aquafest President and cancer survivor knows first hand, exactly what he means.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, facing chemotherapy and radiation, losing her hair and coming out of it all a survivor, Anderson’s dream is to help others who will soon be facing the same challenges.
“As a survivor, I know what it feels like to hear the words, ‘you have cancer’, how it feels to face chemotherapy and radiation, not to mention losing your hair,” she said.
Anderson learned a few tricks to overcoming some of the pain and agony of facing treatment like using chamomile tea to sooth mouth sores or keeping a journal of what you are feeling. Because of her experiences she has started her own non-profit organization called Heart Love Bags & Baskets.
“I have always wanted to create a basket or bag full of hope and encouragement for patients who are just beginning their cancer treatment,” Anderson said. “These bags would be created by survivors and would contain notes of encouragement along with items that we found helpful during our treatment.”
Anderson sat down at the computer and started “googleing” companies that had the products she was looking for to fill her bags of love, most of them responded quickly and with an “absolutely yes”!
“The response has been overwhelming! I now have enough items to create the first 200 bags,” Anderson said. “I also have several dedicated ladies knitting and sewing hats to go in the bags and lap blankets for the patients. The Lake Stevens Senior Citizens Card Class has made cards that will be attached to each bag.”
The bags are going to be passed out to newly diagnosed patients at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership (PRCP) in Everett where over 100 people are diagnosed with cancer each month.
Anderson also volunteers her time at PRCP and is able to hand the bags to many of the patients herself, giving them support and love along with a bag full of goodies and uplifting notes and DVDs.
“Volunteering at Providence Regional Cancer Partnership allows me to visit with those who are going through their treatment. I feel that being able to create these bags is a great way to give back,” she said. “It has been a true blessing to me.”
If you would like to learn more about the Heart Love Bags you can visit Anderson’s website at www.heartlovebags.org. You will also be able to view the DVD she has put together for each of the bags she and other survivors create.
Anderson will also be holding a Christmas Shop with a Cause fundraiser at Lake Stevens Books & Espresso on Sunday, Dec. 7.