My Mother, Jean, was diagnosed with Lymphoma at the age of 60. She has battled it 6 times with very aggressive, debilitating treatments and surgeries with many months in total spent hospitalized. During one of these battles her dear friend, Mary Ann, and I planned to take her to a Joan Baez concert. Mary Ann and my Mother have been the best of friends since kindergarten and she has been like an aunt to me my entire life. My Mother had been undergoing very aggressive chemotherapy at this time with 5+ days hospitalized at a time so we thought that this would be an enjoyable distraction before she was readmitted. My Mother was weak with very little energy and her skin was a sallow shade of grey. The dull, dark clothing she had selected to wear to attend the concert just hung on her thinning body. I suggested that she change into some of the new, bright colored clothing that I had just purchased for her. When she dressed in the new clothing she seemed brighter ... it was not just her appearance, but also her spirit. Mary Ann and I also felt brighter somehow. It was a wonderful and memorable evening.
Several days later my Mother was back in the hospital. She has received excellent medical care at one of the finest hospitals in the world but each time my Mother was admitted she was handed an old, worn out institutional gown which instantly made her look sicker. It occurred to me that just because she was a patient, she did not need to be dressed like one, and I thought that cancer patients should be given bright, cheery hospital gowns. I decided that I wanted to do something, however small, to lift the spirits of cancer patients as well as their family and friends visiting them.
Several months after the concert, Mary Ann was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and there were times when the two dear friends were hospitalized just several miles apart. Both of these special women were shining lights of hope to everyone around them. It was an immensely sad time, and only 16 months after our concert outing, Mary Ann lost her battle.
A short time later while my idea about the hospital gowns was still just a thought, I happened to drive past the lobby of the hospital where my Mother was always treated. My first thought was complete gratitude ... gratitude that my Mother was not up there on the oncology floor.
My next thought, which was just as powerful and sent tears down my cheeks, was that although my Mother was not up there, the oncology floor was always filled with cancer patients who were suffering. It was at that moment that I knew that I had to move forward and turn my thoughts into what is now Patients Into People.
Patients Into People, a non-profit organization, has provided gowns to women and men around the country, and the response has been overwhelming. We have been deeply touched by the thank you notes and photos we have received.
Patients Into People is in honor of my Mother and everyone who battles cancer and in memory of Mary Ann and everyone who has lost their battles.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story.
Christine, Daughter of Jean, Friend of Mary Ann