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St. Anne Hospital Cancer Resource Center provides special touches for everyone.

St. Anne Hospital Foundation

It started with the spark of an idea oncology social worker Sara Craig had in the Fall of 2020.

Looking around the St. Anne Hospital Cancer Resource Center in Burien, Wash., she wished there was a way to provide more than just reading materials to patients. She knew there had to be a way to create the kind of special touches that were available to some patients in the communities surrounding hers. She wanted her patients to feel as special and holistically cared for as any other patient might feel, regardless of their social or economic status.

St. Anne Hospital Foundation has always provided support to the cancer center through equipment purchases, rent assistance and gas/grocery gift cards for patients, prescription medications and other items that have come up. Their service area is diverse, ethnically and socio-economically, and they see many low income patients in their center.

Sara approached St. Anne Hospital Foundation Executive Director Danielle Amstrup and together they embarked on what they called "reimagining the Cancer Resource Center" to get creative with what they could provide to cancer patients from their local community to help make their treatment easier and more comfortable.  

Sara and Danielle met with nurses, physicians and surgeons to discuss what their patients needed most. They showed them product samples and received input from everyone on what would best benefit patients.

Danielle approached the foundation board of directors in December 2020 with a request of $15,000 to get the program started. The board unanimously approved $15,000 in unrestricted dollars to launch the effort. With the funding, they were able to purchase many items including:

Chemotherapy port shirts with dual zippers for men and women to make infusion therapies easier; better radiation gowns that tie on the side which are more discreet and comfortable for patients; water bottles with encouraging statements about staying hydrated; picc line covers to help keep patients lines clean and in place; mastectomy recovery bras for surgery patients to wear during their recovery; headscarves; and wigs.

St. Anne social workers teamed with the foundation to revamp the St. Anne Hospital Cancer Resource Center in Burien, Wash. in 2021 thanks to donor support.

They also enlisted the help of local sewers to sew mastectomy pillows for women who are recovering from treatment and needed special pillows for comfort when driving or sitting for long periods of time. Through a partnership with Thrive Causemetics, they also provide clean makeup items for free to women going through treatment. The products offered include fake eyelashes and brow products to help patients who have lost their hair, lashes and brows and brightening eye shadows.

“This program has completely changed the way our social worker interacts with patients,” says Danielle. “Many times it was difficult for Sara to gain trust from oncology patients and to get them to open up about what barriers were in the way of focusing on their health and treatment. Now, Sara is able to meet with each patient on their first day of treatment and walk them through the resource center, providing them with information and educational items, as well as tangible things that will make their cancer journey a little bit easier. Almost every time, after that experience, patients will open up to her about other needs that they have.”

Sara says that patients' faces light up when they see the shirts, receive a bra pre-surgery or get to try on and choose a wig to bring home. Patients have said that they truly feel cared for and that St. Anne has thought of everything to help them through their journey.

The St. Anne Cancer Resource Center offers a variety of comfort items, such as scarves, head wraps, wigs and more, to help patients through treatment with dignity and care.

Since seeing early success in providing patients with these items, St. Anne Hospital Foundation has started to fundraise for the items through an online store and at their summer garden party fundraiser. They also recently received a $10,000 grant from KeyBank to continue the program.

When it is safe to host in-person events again, they hope to have a fundraiser specific to the cancer resource center that will allow them to continue and to grow the program.

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