In the worst stages of her cancer treatment, what got Jessica Brubaker through were the messages of support, she said.
Brubaker now wants to assist others battling the disease. To help other chemotherapy patients, Brubaker has teamed up some Girl Scouts in Lemont Friday to assemble tote bags and write letters of support.
“We are making bags for cancer patients so they can feel better and they can lift their spirits,” said Lauren Tracy, 10, a Girl Scout at Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Lemont.
About 20 girls in the school’s kindergarten Daisy troop and fourth grade Junior Troop assembled 21 tote bags in conjunction with the #bettereveryday chemo care tote program, which Brubaker started last year with items to help “brighten the spirit of those going through treatment and bring a smile their way,” said troop leader Megan Plahm.
Using troop funds, donations from friends and family, as well as providing some of the supplies themselves, the girls filled the bags with items that would benefit chemo patients, Plahm said. According to a #bettereveryday flier, more than 150 chemo care totes have been gifted, filled with items such as reusable water bottles, Working Hands hand cream for chemo rash, Biotene mouthwash for mouth sores caused by chemo, adult coloring books, colored pencils and crayons to pass the time during treatment.
Bags also had Lifesaver candies to help offset the taste of saline during the cancer treatments, the flier said.
As Brubaker, who is from Western Springs, prepared to meet the girls, she told the Daily Southtown about her battle with breast cancer. A mother of three small children, she underwent a double mastectomy and is nearly finished with her treatment, she said.
“After my first chemotherapy, I got very, very sick,” she said. “You’ve got to knock yourself down to build yourself back up.”
Fighting back tears, she recalled a conversation with her husband who reminded her that the only time she said she might not make it through was when she was on the bathroom floor vomiting in the toilet.
“When you’re knocked back down, it’s hard to know you will get back up,” she told the Southtown. “What helped me get back up” was knowing people cared.
In every bag she sends, she writes a personal note, and so did the Girl Scouts.