After being diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer in 2019, Realtor Connie Brown wanted to find a way to encourage other breast cancer patients.
Inspired by another project, Brown decided to fill snap bags with items patients might find helpful while undergoing chemotherapy. She then recruited Pat Blevins, a seamstress, to help make the bags. Not wanting to overwhelm her friend, she asked for 50.
Blevins then issued a clarion call to The Hens, a sewing group from her congregation, Bible Baptist Church in Jasper.
“I didn’t think I could churn out 50 by myself,” Blevins says. “The Hens were all in, especially since some of them have friends and relatives who have had breast cancer or another form of cancer.”
The Hens started sewing at the end of last year. They began in the fellowship hall of their church, carrying their sewing machines back and forth between sessions. When the pandemic halted those gatherings, they moved to Blevins’ house.
“One of the Hen’s daughters is also a breast cancer survivor, so this project was near and dear to her heart,” Brown says.
Instead of sewing 50 snap bags, the Hens worked double time to provide 225 bags by August.
“We didn’t intend to make 225, but one Hen, Lee Ewton, made 125 by herself,” Blevins explains. “When I saw all the bags, I thought of all the precious ladies who would receive them, and prayed they would know God cares for them and will be with them through the storm.”
For help putting together a list of items that would go in the snap bags, Brown turned to her daughter, Brooke Maples, an oncology nurse. Maples suggested providing Aquaphor Healing Ointment, hand sanitizer, body lotion, peanut butter crackers, hand warmers, lip balm, tissues and assorted mints.
At this point, Brown had every component of her project in place but one: How to pay for the items that would go in the bags.
So she approached her broker, Peggy Pryor, and fellow agents at Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty. Together, they provided more than $500, which Brown says covered the cost of all the contents.
Over a year after conceiving the project, Brown, along with Blevins, delivered the snap bags to the nurse navigator at MaryEllen Locher Breast Cancer Center on Glenwood Drive in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Brittany Hennessee, breast services manager at CHI Memorial MaryEllen Locher Breast Center, said she and the staff are grateful for the donation.
“Our breast cancer patients will put these items to good use during their treatments and recovery. Donations such as these enhance the care we can provide to our patients.”
Brown says the warm reception brought a gratifying end to the project and left her and Blevins in tears.
“Some of the patients might not have anyone with them at their treatment due to COVID or other reasons. I hope they benefit from the contents and feel special as they face a giant.”