Cancer Center Patients Give Back To Cancer Patients

Front row from left, ARC Executive Director Cindy Pennington, Amiee Carter, Kerry-Camille Helveston, Lauren Glaze, and Joseph Garretson. Back row, ARC volunteers Pam Hughes and Dawn Rials, Mary Lois Brady, Elizabeth Green, and Bo Hrom, MD, oncologist.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (December 29, 2020) – During this season of giving, patients undergoing treatment at the Forrest General Cancer Center are on the receiving end of goody bags. They aren’t from a group or organization but from fellow survivors and fighters who have been in these patients’ shoes or still are.

A group, who met by coincidence at the Cancer Center one year ago in December 2019, formed a tight-knit circle, a supportive sisterhood, of sorts. They text and check in on one another daily, offering encouragement and support and to see how each person is doing. “And you better reply,” said Amiee Carter of Hattiesburg, one of the members, who was put on Hospice in September. “This group was meant to be. We all met, by chance, on that day in December at the Cancer Center. God put us together.”

Elizabeth Nichol Green, who knows the difficulty of a cancer diagnoses, said the group wanted to make holiday bags for cancer patients going through chemo at the Cancer Center. “We have all been patients and received chemo at the Center, so it’s very special to us,” Green said. 

“Cancer is difficult and having it during the holidays can truly take away joy. Many patients are going through treatment alone, because the Cancer Center is not allowing visitors, due to COVID-19, to keep patients and employees safe. We want patients to know that we are thinking of them, we love them, and we are praying for them!”

The small group of friends took to their Facebook pages and through word of mouth asked their friends and families to help provide items that would help ease the burden of chemo and bring patients a little joy such as Chapstick, lotions, pens, puzzle books, fuzzy socks, port pillows, warm hats, mints, gum, candy, an encouraging note, inspirational verses and quotes, and more. Monetary donations were also accepted, so the women could purchase items for the goody bags.

The group’s initial goal was 50 bags, but with an outpouring of support, they quickly surpassed their goal. The bags are passed out by the chemo nurses to patients who seem to need a pick-me-up and some encouragement.

Hattiesburg resident Mary Lois Brady, who brings her mother to the Cancer Center every Tuesday, is a long-time friend of Amiee Carter and wanted to lend her support. “My mom is currently receiving treatment here, and my dad had treatment here five years ago,” Brady said. “I come here every Tuesday to drop her off. It’s just a unique year, and I wanted to do something to give back, as well.” Brady also gathered some drinks and snacks, which are always needed.

The clients at the ARC became involved when executive director Cindy Pennington saw the Facebook post and knew her group could help. “We just butted in,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of family members and some staff who have had cancer and received treatment here. When I saw something about the bags on Facebook, we decided to help by donating ceramic pink ribbons the clients have made. A lot of people in the community are doing stuff for us, so we wanted to give back in the little ways we can.”

Carter said in addition to the items like socks and toothbrush/toothpaste, they also added coloring book and colors. “We gave them things they can do while they are sitting there at chemo,” said Carter.

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