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Monongahela Valley Hospital Cancer Patients Benefit from a Mother's Legacy

Holding up two of the chemo care packs photo

Shown, from left, are Leigh Stolarz with her son Jaxon, age 1, Ms. Burkhardt, and from left, front, Arabella, age 3 and Iliana, age 5, holding up two of the chemo care packs.
(May 9, 2014 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

Her late mother so relished a gift bag given to her during her battle with lung cancer, that Leigh Stolarz was inspired to create and donate gift bags to other cancer patients in her mother's memory.

Ms. Stolarz and her children recently assembled and donated those goodie bags to Debbie Burkhardt, director of Radiation Oncology, to be distributed to cancer patients at Monongahela Valley Hospital, where her mother received treatment.

Dubbed "chemo care packs," the bags with hand crocheted "chemo caps," lotions, hand sanitizers and other pampering items are admittedly geared more toward women, Ms. Stolarz said, but her mother, Barbara J. Wentzel Zimmerman "got a care package and really enjoyed it and used everything in it."

The 24 bags will be distributed in both the Radiation Therapy and Medical Oncology Departments by MVH staff members.

Shown, from left, are Leigh Stolarz with her son Jaxon, age 1, Ms. Burkhardt, and from left, front, Arabella, age 3 and Iliana, age 5, holding up two of the chemo care packs.

Ms. Stolarz said her mother died June 5, 2012 and the day after, butterflies suddenly swarmed her as she stepped outside. "I really felt like it was a sign from my mom in heaven, letting me know that she was alright.

"Ms. Stolarz channeled her grief by creating a Facebook page called "Giving BACC: The Butterfly Affect - Chemo Care," to solicit donations for the bags to honor her mother's memory. Her mother's friends and caregivers gave the majority of the gifts.

"I wanted to pass on my mother's legacy and I wanted to do something meaningful for other cancer patients," she said. "(This project) was very emotional for me and I had put it off for a long time because it's so hard that she's not here."

Stolarz posted this quote on the Giving BACC Facebook page: "My mom was so brave, God made her an angel."


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