Chemo Comfort is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Chemo Comfort provides cancer patients with kits of products to help manage the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, mouth sores and hair loss.
Newly diagnosed cancer patients are fragile and need to conserve their strength (mental and physical) for important things. Chemo Comfort kits give patients the tools to cope with day to day needs from the beginning. A patient can start out with the right toothpaste and a comfy sleep cap and not spend time and effort trying to work that out. They don’t have to run to the health food store for this and the drug store for that. It arrives at their door or is given to them by a social worker. So much is out of one’s control as a cancer patient that to be able to take positive, comforting measures for oneself, however small, is important.
Chemo Comfort’s concern is making life easier and more comfortable for the cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Chemo Comfort provides resources that enable cancer patients to take positive, comforting measures for themselves, thereby empowering patients at a time when so much feels out of their control.
Chemo Comfort is based on founder Anne Marie Paolucci’s experiences as a two-time breast cancer patient. In April 2001, Ms. Paolucci was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a year of treatment - surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In October 2003, she was again diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a similar treatment regimen. Between diagnoses, she founded Chemo Comfort.
In 2002, Ms. Paolucci gave a friend about to begin chemotherapy a “chemo starter kit,” filled with products and information she had discovered during her odyssey. The friend and her family were thrilled with the kit and Ms. Paolucci realized she wanted to share what she had learned with other cancer patients. Cancer is such a daunting thing to go through - if you can emerge with a way to help others, that is thrilling.
Chemo Comfort has a three-tiered program to distribute kits to cancer patients. Kits are donated through cancer organizations; subsidized kits are available to other cancer patients for a minimal donation; and there is a gift kit program, which helps to sustain our other programs. Over 80% of our kits have been donated in 2007. Kits have a retail value of over $100.
Our donation program is accomplished through partnerships with other cancer organizations. We have found this allows us to concentrate on producing and distributing kits, while organizations that are already set up to work one on one with cancer patients through their social workers and/or nurses can distribute kits to those they know need and cannot afford them. Our current partners are Cancer Support Team in Westchester County, New York; the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative at the Actors’ Fund; and CancerCare, which is a national organization, and is currently distributing kits through their free wig and prosthesis clinics in New York.
Our subsidized program is for cancer patients only. We ask for a small donation ($10 - $25, including shipping) to help defray a portion of our expenses. A sleep cap alone costs $15-$20, so it is an extremely generous deal for the recipient. Patients receive brochures from doctors’ offices, our partnering organizations or through our website.
Our gift kit program is very popular. We ask those who want to give a Chemo Comfort kit as a gift for a suggested donation of $75, including shipping. The kits are a wonderful and practical gift. Income from these kits helps to support our other programs. The biggest compliment we receive is from people who have received gift kits calling us to request a gift kit for someone they know about to undergo treatment.
Cancer diagnosis is completely overwhelming. It is a time when one is desperately trying to assimilate information that is coming at you from all directions. Simultaneously, you cannot believe you have to cope with this at all. Decisions affecting your life have to be made, yet you are in shock. Just the other day, life was “normal.” Now you are making the rounds of surgeons and oncologists, trying to decide whom to trust with your life. And all these people are “doing” things to you - taking blood, running tests. You quickly feel a loss of control.
Providing ways that help patients feel they can help themselves is a goal of Chemo Comfort. Though having a cup of ginger tea for nausea is a small thing, especially in the large tapestry that is cancer treatment, any sense of control is beneficial.
“On behalf of myself and the patient who received your very special gift, a huge thank you. The presentation, contents and the succinct explanation of each product use was truly superb. It made her feel so special. Someone endeavored to soothe the symptoms of chemo. A rare find and much appreciated.” an R.N., Cancer Support Team
Starting chemotherapy is a frightening experience. Buying the right toothpaste and toothbrush is pretty far down on the list of priorities. Yet, having the right products is invaluable. With Chemo Comfort kits, this isn’t something a patient finds out once mouth sores have made it painful to brush his or her teeth. We are saying to patients “Here is a box of tools put together by someone who’s been there. Know that you are not alone and these tools will help you take care of yourself during this difficult journey.”
Goals This Year
Chemo Comfort plans to expand our kit distribution by partnering with additional cancer organizations. We also plan to expand our distribution of brochures into major cancer centers as well as oncologists offices.
Anne Marie Paolucci
Chief Executive Profile
Ms. Paolucci worked for seventeen years
as a theatrical stage manager. She stage managed productions on and off Broadway as well as opera, dance and many fashion shows. Ms. Paolucci has worked with Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Julie Harris, Kathy Bates, Francis Sternhagen, Gary Sinise, John Mahoney, Carol Kane, Cynthia Nixon, John Malkovich, Colin Quinn, Paul Rudd, Kimberly Williams and Carol Shelley, among others.
Stage managers are responsible for everything that happens on stage and off. Stage management requires exceptional organizational and management skills. The job requires a strong attention to detail, taking care of and anticipating problems, being the person others can turn to and you have to do it all with skill and grace. Having managed theatrical companies that numbered up to two hundred people, Ms. Paolucci is more than competent to run this program.
Anne Marie Paolucci
Founder, Chemo Comfort
Senior VP Marketing, Sally Hansen Cosmetics
President, B. Paolucci Inc.
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