Many of us know someone who has been affected by cancer. It's a long, hard road to beating the disease but one local Austin non-profit is hoping to lend some extra support during those difficult times.
Chemotherapy is an extremely difficult time for those fighting cancer and people often don't think about what they may need outside of treatment. Things like masks and gloves. But the CareBOX Program is making it easy for patients to be as comfortable as they can be in the fight for their lives.
Nicole Bourgault is 26-years-old. She’s a mother of two and her life revolves around her children. Last Thanksgiving, everything changed.
“I had went to the emergency room. My left breast was in tremendous pain. I didn't know what was going on,” Nicole says.
After a series of tests, Nicole was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
In the fight for her life, Nicole started the first of six sessions of chemotherapy.
“It's been really really hard. It's emotional, I can tell you that,” Nicole says. “You're hot, you're cold, you're throwing up, you don't feel good and you only have about a week of good days.”
The chemo also left Nicole with a very weak immune system where a simple encounter with someone who is sick could make her take a turn for the worst.
“Even if it's a sneeze, you have to walk away because you don't know if they have a common cold, or turn into a cold because that could ultimately give me an infection and I could die from that,” Nicole says.
That kind of danger is what keeps many from seeking outpatient care during their treatment. That is until they hear about CareBOX.
The non-profit was started by an undergrad student at the University of Texas. She designed a program that would deliver critical at home care items to cancer patients.
Communication and Program Director Lisa Keefauver says, “People are going through extreme aches and pains so something like a heating pad provides relief. Mobility items like shower chairs and walkers.”
“It's infection prevention items like chemo masks and ointments and bandages and nutritional supplements, things that will keep them nourished because malnutrition can keep people from getting treatments,” Keefauver adds.
Patients make a wish list of items online. Friends and family can fulfill that wish but sometimes it's those who don't even know the patient that donate.
Keefauver says, “Maybe you lost a family member to cancer and you want to make a difference in another cancer patients life, this is really easy way to do that.”
About a year and a half into the program they have helped 100 patients with 24 different types of cancer.
Giving patients the ability to go through their fight in the most comfortable way possible.
“We know people's spirits are lifted when they're home in their environment and so we created this program to help get folks the supplies that they need so they can have that time at home,” Keefauver says.
Nicole says she is extremely grateful for all the help from CareBOX and is hopeful and excited to beat cancer for her children.
“My family is my world and that's what means the most to me and that's what keeps me going every day. Knowing that I can do this. It's for my family.”
CareBOX also says that they couldn't do it all without their volunteers.
If you would like to help someone through CareBOX or to become a volunteer you can head to their website here.