And So It Began...
Author: Sharon Baldwin Crews, Co-Founder.
This Post Was Originally Published on 10/10/13.
My name is Sharon Crews. I am a wife, stay-at-home mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, Speech Language Pathologist, etc. and a breast cancer survivor who lives in the swampland of southeast Georgia. My cancer treatment included surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and more surgeries. After recovering from my treatment over 10 years ago, I was ready to leave the twisted experiences of diagnosis and treatment behind me. However, each time I learned of someone in my world who would soon begin chemotherapy, my heart would ache. From time-to-time the opportunity would arise to mentor new patients, or Newbies. I also was able to coach those in the patients’ support systems who would ask “How can I help” or “What can I do that will really make a difference”?
Years into this process I packed a backpack with all the essential items I had found comforting and necessary for chemotherapy, then gave it to a local woman moments before her first treatment began. This simple act was the birth of a greater vision. The vision to prepare women to manage their lives on chemotherapy, to mentor them, to coach their support system and encourage a pay it forward mentality that might birth a network of support.
Years later, following her own diagnosis with breast cancer, Lucy Barlow, teamed up with me. This partnership formed after she underwent radiation therapy and the removal of a cancerous tumor. One day Lucy sat in the waiting room facing many different women who were in different stages of treatment. She looked on as a lonely, frail woman, probably in her 60’s, dragged herself into the waiting room, sat down, and lowered her head into her hands. This was a pivotal moment for Lucy. Just then she felt inspired to help breast cancer patients through this difficult time. Lucy caught the vision!
Because Lucy was not only a long-time friend, but my personal and professional mentor, I shared my story with her well before this ah-ha moment of hers. I told Lucy about packing and giving that first backpack to the lady in my community. I also updated her when I learned that that first backpack was spontaneously paid forward. After Lucy’s encounter with the frail woman in the waiting room, she called and asked if I would be interested in forming a partnership to further the vision. We both wanted to move forward with the idea of providing backpacks for breast cancer patients, and so with great excitement I took her up on her offer!
Our project began over 3 years ago, and since that time the vision has blossomed into the Got Your BackPax, a podcast called “The Cancer Survivor Show” and a book named My Chemo Cocktail & Me: Bringing Order, Peace and Joy to a Twisted Adventure. We know that God lead us to this point. We are amazed at the expansion of the original vision and the strong impact it has had on women in need of peace, mentorship, organization, experience and maybe even little laughter. Lucy and I, The Chemo Girls, are in the process of launching this chemo support system and are excited to see where it takes us. You can watch the video of our first official book and pax given to one of our dear breast cancer sisters: My Chemo Cocktail & Me: First Prototype Gift
We have come such a long way since that first gift of the My Chemo Cocktail & Me Prototype book and Got Your BackPax, given to Sharon Davis! We are blessed and honored that Sharon allowed us into her life to share a piece of our hearts and the wisdom we found living our own cancer story... as she set off on her own cancer journey through chemotherapy. As we stand in the midst of our launch we will never forget how this mission of helping fellow sisters in need of comfort & support started.
But the result has been a system that offers a meaningful and helpful gift for those who want to make a real difference for a patient, a system of life management while undergoing treatment and the opportunity to pay forward the pack at the end of treatment as a vehicle for mentorship and encouragement. Giving a Got Your BackPax has the potential to plant a seed that could grow and flourish into a network of support in any given community. Enjoy...
We are not just surviving, but THRIVING with you!!