Here at the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, we believe in reaching those diagnosed in the state individually. The Friends Like Me Care Packages do just that every day. These pink boxes, which contain valuable information, books, and donated gifts, make it to Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Scranton, and everywhere in between. To date, over 3,400 Friends Like Me Care Packages have made it into the hands of newly diagnosed men and women in PA.
Included in each package is a quick survey that we ask recipients to complete. The last question is “What did receiving this Friends Like Me Care Package mean to you?” Below a quick note that was sent back recently.
My “Friends Like Me” package arrived a few days after meeting with my surgeon and scheduling my surgery.
I cried when I opened the box. It was a tangible representation of my cancer and a powerful gift. Filled with information, it empowered me to ask and learn more. I wanted to be actively involved in my treatment plan. Along with my surgeon and her staff at Penn State Hershey Breast Center, my family and friends; you too became part of my support team. Kim Eubanks’ note personalized my package. I remembered her from church and thought it remarkable that she remembered me. I’m sure many packages are sent weekly – to remember me and take the time to send a note meant the world to me. Thanks Kim!
I read Navigating Breast Cancer by Lillie Shockney shortly after receiving it with my cancer information at Hershey. It dealt with many of the issues I was dealing with like how to tell others and what lies ahead. Reading the book gave me a sense of normalcy. Others had gone through the same emotional rollercoaster I was living. I read her Breast Cancer Survivor’s Club from my Friends Like Me package as a sequel. The Breast Cancer: Covered or Not by Dr. Linda Rhodes and Pat Halpin-Murphy provided easy to read information on health insurance. I have insurance through my employer but had only ever used it for wellness and routine family doctor visits. I read the book right away and called the insurance company just to “double-check” what I thought I knew. I needed to focus on getting better, not fighting with insurance.
I laughed when I saw the knit hat. Made from bright, fuzzy yarn, it wasn’t my “style” and chemo wasn’t in my treatment plan, but I will wear it proudly. It reminds me to laugh each day. It also serves to remind me that my cancer was found early and with radiation, my outlook is good. Not everyone is as fortunate.
I read all the books and pamphlets in my package. My husband wears the pink ribbon sticker. I wear the “survivor” bracelet and pink ribbon pin. The angel made by the Girl Scout Troop hangs from the rearview mirror of my car. All reminders of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
In February I had a lumpectomy at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. I learned that my lymph nodes were clear. I will have radiation. I have been blessed.
These personal stories are behind the PBCC’s driving force to find a cure now! Do you know someone who was recently diagnosed? Visit the PBCC’s Friends Like Me page to request a Care Package be sent FREE of charge!