Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spotlight: C.A.D.S. Bags

C.A.D.S Bags are gift bags of donated materials for anyone who is going through chemo in an effort to alleviate some of the stress that surrounds starting chemo. It was started by Amber Wilson & Lori Zeka. They donate these bags to oncology office and hospitals in their local area, but are wanting to expand. Read more to learn how to help!



How we found out about C.A.D.S. Bags...

Every week, Bravelets holds a contest for anyone to nominate a friend, loved one, or themselves for a free piece of jewelry. Every Friday, we go through each nomination and read all sorts of stories about brave moments, hardship people are encountering, and the inspiration they find in the person they are nominating! Learn more about Nominate To Win here.

One week, we read a nomination from Amber who was hoping to win a free piece of Bravelets jewelry for her friend Lori! Her nomination said:
"Lori suffers from AVN and had to have a hip replacement and stem cell treatments. She may have to have the same thing done in her right side at a later time. She never verbalizes her pain or the limitations she now has. All the while, with her own issues, she makes hygiene care packages for the less fortunate and she still makes time to help me through remission from breast cancer and current ovarian cancer scare (waiting on results). She became my partner in our charity venture, C.A.D.S. Bags, which are bags for chemo patients to take to treatments with them and keep them occupied and feeling better. Without her helping me I wouldn't have been able to get to this point so quickly in our journey. She is such a caring and giving person that she definitely deserves to be called brave."
We were immediately drawn in by her heartfelt support of her friend and curious about C.A.D.S. Bags! We reached out to both Amber Wilson & Lori Zeka, co-founders of C.A.D.S. Bags, here is what they had to say:

Q: What was the inspiration for C.A.D.S Bags, Amber?

A: When I found out I had cancer in November 2014 (stage 2b, no lymph nodes, triple negative breast cancer) I went online and researched what to expect from chemo or the long term side effects. I wasn't given really any preparation from doctors or their team on how to handle it or what to do during the treatments. They provided the very basics and what would occur from a clinical standpoint. 
So, I built a bag to take with me. It included things that I thought would help. This included books and an eye mask and a pillow. It eventually grew into a blanket, candy, snacks, drinks. I was then given a bag from a friend filled with a blanket and pillows, candy and snacks.

During the treatment, I told the counselor that I had thought about doing something in the future, after I was finished with treatments, and I wanted it to be specific to people in my situation. I found out that was too specific and changed my focus to breast cancer patients, regardless of their circumstances matching my own.  
Q: Lori, how did you get involved?
L: I have lost several friends and my step dad to cancer. I also have several friend who are battling it now. When Amber started telling me about CADS Bags I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of her journey with her if she allowed me. 

If I could just play one small role in someones life who is receiving chemo and give them a gift that would allow them to be comfortable at times or occupied so that time will pass for them in a different way other than watching the clock.  I wanted to be able to help give that gift. 

I am a coupon-er, I have been doing to for several years now. I create Care Packages for those who fall on hard times, they contain all hygiene products. I received a list from Amber of the items that she included in her bags and knew I could help her save money and grow this venture together.  

Amber allowed me to join her and I have been so thankful since. Its a great match her and I. Not only do we offer the bags but Amber also advises those who are going through chemo, that have questions through our page. The unknown is the scariest I think and its comforting to know that you are not alone. I have learned that through my own personal experience with my recent diagnosis of AVN.  ( a vascular necrosis )

Q: Why is it called C.A.D.S. Bags? 

A: I made my first bag, shortly after I finished treatments in April 2015, and named it C.A.D.S. Bags after women in my life that were diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Q: What is the future of C.A.D.S. Bags? 

A: We receive weekly donations, either through items or financially. Our hope is to eventually be able to create a website with the ability for people to make financial donations. We also plan to do this with our Facebook page. Our long-term goal is to become a 501(c) charity and to be able to provide bags to medical offices and hospitals outside of our local area, Jacksonville/Saint Augustine, Florida. I'd also like to be able to take requests from people to provide bags to somebody they know. 

 L: I am excited for what the future holds for CADS and also we hope to be able to help more people with our bags as our name gets out there. 

How you can help:

If you would like to learn more about C.A.D.S. Bags and how you can help either through donations (financial or items) or with your skills, email Amber and Lori at [email protected].

Find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/cadsbags/



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