Caregiver Stories and Gifts
For Zinette from Nurse Navigator/Social Worker, Jessica
Zinette is a strong, positive young woman who is currently taking care of her parents and specifically her father, who is undergoing treatment for stage IV colon cancer. Zinette works part time and then spends her time with Mom & Dad at the hospital.
Zinette was nominated by nurse navigator Jessica Fox to receive a gift from CaringOn. “Zinette’s parents speak limited English and she does a lot of the communication and active advocacy work that is needed for them both. She is a wonderful caregiver and could use the lifting boost of CaringOn.”
CaringOn honored Zinette, along with Mom Betty, by treating them to a luxurious spa day where they can refresh renew and recharge.
For Safiya from Nurse Navigator/Social Worker, Jessica
Safiya is an amazing woman who balanced being a working mom to an active 3 year old and taking care of her husband, Marques. Marques was only 26 years old when he was diagnosed with a stage IV lung cancer. Safiya and Chase were by his side for every treatment at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. Safiya was willing to risk losing her job so that Marques would not have to spend his last days alone.
Safiya was nominated by nurse navigator/social worker Jessica Fox to receive a gift from CaringOn. “Safiya has had to face a part of life no one should have to at her age. She is in her 20s, taking care of her love as he fights an aggressive tumor and they raise their toddler. She now faces being a widow and a single mom.”
CaringOn honored Safiya with the give of rest with an overnight stay at a downtown hotel at the Inner Harbor. “This is exactly what Marquis would want for me.” Said Safiya about her late husband. “He always wanted me to go to a hotel, get some rest and not to worry.”
For Aldona from Maggie
Aldona Kudirka was honored by her daughter Maggie with a trip to Longwood Gardens in May. Maggie was diagnosed at age 23 with stage 4 breast cancer in June 2014 and Aldonna has been there every step of the way as she goes through treatment. Maggie wrote to CaringOn saying “She continues to be the rock during my cancer journey and I couldn’t imagine this journey without her.” “I have been trying to think of some thing to show her my appreciation. I think a trip to Longwood Gardens will be the perfect way to say Thank You.” The gift was presented to Aldonna by Maggie and CaringOn volunteer Kim Fisher.
This was a very relaxing day for us. I think it made Maggie very happy to be able to give me such a special Mother’s Day gift. She has not been able to work much since getting cancer. She has wanted to give me gifts to show her appreciation, but I always tell her to save her money. This was truly a wonderful gift for both of us. I like very much the flexibility that CaringOn offers to the cancer patient in choosing a gift for their caregiver. It is a day I think each of us will remember for a long time.
For India from Linda
India Johnson was nominated by her mother, Linda Adamson, who was diagnosed in 2015 with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. India lives with and cares for Linda as well as her own young daughter, and also works full-time at the University of Maryland Hospital.
Linda and CaringOn surprised India at work with a gift of an overnight stay downtown at the Inner Harbor. India was able to have a relaxing night to herself to refresh, renew and recharge.
In March CaringOn honored a well-deserving woman who exemplifies our mission. Jessica Fox is a Nurse Navigator/Social Worker at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital whose work focuses on cancer patients there. Her role has been to provide the emotional and psychological support for the patients and their caregiver as they deal with diagnosis, treatment, and recovery during their frightening illness.
Jessica’s endless compassion and advocacy on behalf of her patients and their caregivers is boundless and her work with CaringOn led her to personally nominate eight patients and caregivers for CaringOn gifts last year. We presented most of those gifts and want to tell you there was not a dry eye in the oncology ward at most presentations.
Thank you Jessica for your staunch belief in the power of “thank you” and the need to care for the caregiver.
Jillian Gillece was nominated by the nurses at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital for taking care of her father, the late James Gillece, who was treated there for advanced colon cancer. Jillian is a social worker who tirelessly gave of her time to take care of her father and support him through his illness. They thought she could use an energy boost and an appreciative gesture that a special CaringOn gift could provide.
CaringOn gave Jillian and her husband two tickets to Centerstage and dinner before the show. Jillian wrote this after receiving the gift from Judy and Susan at CaringOn:
I wanted to let you know how wonderful it was to meet with both of you and really see what wonderful people there are in this world. I can’t say thank you enough for your compassion and strength and overall amazing presence. I hope we get to sit and talk more soon. I would love to give back and help in any way I can.
I wanted to let you know also that I just e-mailed Center stage and hope to go to the Secret Garden next Saturday. It is funny because it is a musical I saw with my dad when I was a kid and I always sing the songs from it, so my husband only knows it through my terrible renditions.
Thank you again for all you do and please absolutely let’s get together again and I would love to volunteer and help in anyway I can.
All my best,
For Geraldine and Tara
Susan and Lee of CaringOn gave a gift of 4 Ravens football tickets to caregiver Tara Mack at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital on Thursday in the oncology infusion suite with her mother, Geraldine Jenkins, a stage four uterine cancer patient, cheering beside her.
By the way, Tara is a New York Giants fan but rooted for the Ravens when she went to the game on Sunday to please her Mom!
Also pictured is Jessica Fox, the nurse navigator at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital, who nominated Geraldine and Tara for a CaringOn gift (and has nominated five other deserving patients and caregivers).
From Gloria to Latoya
Gloria Queen is an advanced breast cancer patient at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital; her daughter Latoya Wilson lives with her and takes care of her while going to college and working a fulltime job. CaringOn and Gloria surprised Latoya with a gift of dinner for two and an overnight stay at a hotel on Labor Day weekend 2015.
Being a caregiver has its challenging moments but I wouldn’t stop doing what I do for anything or anyone. My mom . . . was always there for me growing up. A single mom who did her very best to provide for me. The CaringOn gift truly made me happy and honestly I felt appreciated.
The feeling of joy and love filled me as my beloved daughter got to have a nice night to herself. As for the blessings and goodness and the love that was given to us both…. God Bless Caring on…
From Ellezzie to Crystal
Ellezzie Simpson is a mother of eight children in Baltimore. Two of her children are very ill and Ellezzie goes back and forth between them, taking care of them, and working a fulltime job. Her daughter, Crystal Carrington, has advanced cancer and is in the middle of aggressive chemotherapy. Crystal surprised her mother Ellezzie with a CaringOn gift while CaringOn volunteers and the oncology team at Hopkins Bayview cheer them on.
For Sheila from Hugh
Julie, nominated her mother, Sheila, who works full time, while still caring for her husband Hugh. Hugh, who has advanced cancer, surprised his daughter and wife to a day of spa treatments and lunch.
After enjoying her spa and lunch day with her daughter, Sheila said: “I truly did not know how much I needed this time away to relax and feel okay about not being right by my husband’s side every minute possible. This day helped me realize if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of him.”
Her husband Hugh responded: “Just by seeing how much this gift has meant to her has brought pure joy to my spirit. . . seeing her expression when she learned of this exceeds anything I can express with words.”
From Susan to her husband
Susan Rodgers, stage 4 cancer patient, not shown here, gave the gift of Refresh, Renew, Recharge, to her husband, Mike (in center), and his tag team helpers.
A limo picked the guys up for dinner and a movie downtown. Susan was very thankful to see Mike have a night out with the boys while she stayed home and had her own quiet time with her dogs and a movie.
From Bud to Pat and Lee
Bud with his tag team Caregivers, Leah, his daughter, and Pat, his wife. Bud passed away after fighting a Stage IV cancer diagnosis. Because of his love for his family, he was able to stay positive throughout his illness. Pictured here months before his passing, Bud celebrated giving a CaringOn gift to his wife and daughter. He knew that they would enjoy their time together and time relaxing. Bud couldn’t wait to see them off and know that they would be enjoying their time together and time relaxing. Plus, he was going to spend some time hanging out with his grandson! After a wonderful and relaxing time at the spa, Leah and Pat enjoyed lunch together. Even relaxing makes one work up an appetite! This was CaringOn’s very first gift, and we were so excited to be a part of Pat and Lee’s respite.
From Kristen to Dan
This gift was given to Dan by his wife Kristen who was undergoing heavy chemo treatments last spring. Dan is a Baltimore County Police Officer and enjoyed a manly day at a spa with lunch. Sadly, Kristen lost her battle to Stage 4 cancer shortly afterwards. She was and is always loved by those that knew her.
Kristen and Dan are pictured with their 9 month old little girl, 4 yr old boy, CaringOn Founder Judy Davanzo and Co-Founder Julie Hettleman.