As a cancer survivor myself, I understand the overwhelming fear of hearing the words, I'm sorry but it is cancer. Knowing others care warms your heart and lifts your spirits. Our satchels are a hug in bag, full of love and inspiration as you battle this horrible disease. We all need to give a little of ourselves so others can have strength. This Foundation truly makes a difference in the lives of those battling cancer.
As a oncology nurse, I meet with patients on the day of their follow up visit with their surgical oncologist. If they are meeting with me, it is because they have been told they need to start chemotherapy. Patients were hoping to never have sit across the desk of an oncology nurse and learn all about chemotherapy. The satchels of caring provide a warm human touch to the binders filled with pages of information that can seem so daunting on this day. The women I have distributed the hand-made satchels like them very much, it truly can bring a smile to their face when they remember all those volunteers that are out there and care about them. I believe that when we incorporate the satchels to their first visit, they begin to understand there are groups and services out in the community and they are reaching out to them.
Our patients sincerely appreciate these lovely, one-of-a-kind bags. It's a little bright spot on an otherwise bleak horizon. They really enjoy being able to pick out there own bag and always comment on how pretty all of them are. The fact that they are lovingly made by such talented volunteers makes them even more special. The nurses are happy to have something so nice to offer to new patients. You help make us look 'good', too. Thanks for all you do.
Our Oncology office acts as a conduit to provide these wonderful bags to women affected by Gynecologic Maligancy. At a time when their world is faling apart, a little ray of sunshine in the form of a beautiful handcrafted tote is given to them and in a small way gives them hope. The bags are fileld with comforting and inspirational items. It is uplifting for the patients to know that someone, a strnger, is reaching out with kindness and healing wishes through these Satchels of Caring.
Four years ago my niece, Angie, was diagnosed with acute leukemia. A friend volunteered at an organization called Satchels of Caring. They provided a satchel to Angie. It was filled with therapeutic and inspirational items for women with cancer, including a soft turban, headscarf, journal, bookmark, inspiration message, relaxation music CD, hand/body creams, lip balm and other items. Angie not only used many of the items, but also wrote in the journal daily. Angie’s son Aaron was only 7 when she died and his grandparents are now raising him. They used to read to him from the journal and Aaron now reads it himself. In it Angie told Aaron her dream and hopes for him, when she realized that she would not be there to tell him herself.
Since then I have been volunteering at Satchels of Caring. On 3 occasions I have been honored to lead groups of BNY Mellon employees to provide services helping the Satchels of Caring Foundation. I was amazed the first time I signed up to lead a group in December 2010. Within a few hours of the email being sent, there were over 40 employees who contacted me that wanted to volunteer. The foundation has room for about 30. But Satchels of Caring set-up a second day in order to accommodate all the volunteers. Everyone at the foundation is a volunteer also, so they had to make arrangements to get off at their work to be there to guide the volunteers. In the end there were 60 volunteers that attended one of the 2 volunteer days in December 2010. Activities completed ranged from selecting the fabrics and trim for the kit to make the satchels, cutting fabrics, filling the finished satchels with the items mentioned above, selecting and sewing buttons on satchels, making tags, decorating the journal covers and other activities to help in completing the satchels. I arranged for another day in May 2011 and again Satchels of Caring foundation had to set-up a second day in order to accommodate all the BNY Mellon volunteers. I like decorating the journals because I know how much Angie used hers.
So many that have volunteered are cancer survivors. Many volunteers told me that they wanted to make going through this difficult time, just a little easier for others. Volunteering not only gives cancer survivors the opportunity to give back to someone who is going through the same experience, but also gave those of us that know someone with cancer, the same opportunity. When the director thanked the group at the end of the day, there were tears in her eyes and in many of the volunteers as well.