Former breast cancer patients help others with gift box

Includes food, support patients need as they battle the disease

Published  6:00 PM HST Sep 03, 2012
HONOLULU -

The breast cancer diagnosis is devastating enough.  What follows is worse.  Most often it is surgery and weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.  The chemicals and gamma rays kill cancer cells, but at a high physical and emotional toll.

So, former breast cancer patients at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center came up with a way to make the journey a little easier.

"The ginger chews are really good.  A lot of patients find it helps soothe the inside of their mouths.  It actually makes food more palatable," said Donna Primiano-Holton, from Oncology at Kaiser Permanente.

"Green tea is also good -- lots of antioxidants.  Crackers we give to settle the stomach.  The thermometer is important to help manage their disease process," said Primiano-Holton.

There's also information on cancer support classes and a discount to the hospital gift shop, in case they use up the supplies.

The Cancer Care Center stocks up on head covers, gels for radiation burns and dry mouth products.

"Many are going to different places to obtain these products so they said why don't you have something available so we don't have to go all around to get these products," said Primiano-Holton.

Mari Green is midway through her chemotherapy and is waiting for a double mastectomy.

"It's convenient because when you're sick, you don't want to drive all around," said Green.  "You can just pick up, one shot.  This and soda crackers.  Really good stuff."

It's not very big and it's not very expensive.  But, there's something else inside the box you can't see -- the reassurance you can cope.  It came from women who went through exactly what you're going through and they survived.

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