DANSVILLE – Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy at U of R Noyes Memorial Hospital sometimes find surprise gift bags left for them by a kind stranger. A small blanket, a soft toothbrush for sensitive gums, lotion for dry skin…hardly treasures in ordinary life but all the world when a person is fighting with life on the line.
A Dansville woman is behind these gifts, not just at U of R Noyes but as far away as Florida and the Carolinas. Jennifer Howe, a cancer survivor, is paying forward the gift of simple comforts that she remembers when she went through chemotherapy.
“I remember getting a bag when I was going through chemo,” said Howe. “It had a notepad, a pen, lotion, anti-bacterial gel…it was so thoughtful. I thought ‘that’s perfect. That’s just what I needed.’ Now I’ve turned my craft room into a stock room for comfort bags. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve done. I lost count at 60.”
The items in the bags are purchased with the help of community donors. On Saturday, Dec. 10, Howe set out a table of comfort bags at Country Clipper Pet Grooming in Piffard and collected about $600.
“The last woman I gave a bag to was so happy she cried,” said Teresa Easton, owner of Country Clipper Pet Grooming. “The people who receive these bags really appreciate it.”
For Howe, Dec. 1 marks one year since her last chemotherapy treatment.
“I remember feeling so scared,” said Howe. “I was so thankful to get my bag. Now I try to bring that feeling to others.”
To refer a name for a possible bag recipient, you can email Howe at CancerComfortBags@gmail.com