SYCAMORE – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Cheryl Chilson of Sycamore hopes to not only get the word out about breast cancer, but also help local women who have been diagnosed.
Chilson is the Illinois chapter director of Positively Pink Packages (PPP), a nonprofit organization that provides free care packages to women diagnosed with breast cancer. Since Chilson started the Illinois chapter of PPP in 2011, more than 700 packages have been distributed to women diagnosed with breast cancer in DeKalb County.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Chilson has been unable to deliver care packages to hospitals and care centers. She usually delivers five or six PPP a month, but has only delivered a few since March.
“I would usually bring the care packages to the cancer center or hospital so women could have them the day after their surgery,” Chilson said. “I haven’t been able to deliver any since February. But breast cancer isn’t going to wait. Women are being diagnosed and they’re not able to receive a care package. They’re missing out on being supported during such a challenging time in their life.”
The care packages include comfort items: a post-operative pillow, a satin pillowcase, a pocket stone with the word “Hope,” all-natural lip balm, two rolls of wintergreen mints, tissues and warm socks. The packages also include entertainment items: a puzzle, adult coloring book, colored pencils, pens, pins and an American Cancer Society nutrition book. Gift cards for self-care, including a facial, massage therapist and to Texas Roadhouse, are also included.
“Every item in the care package was suggested by other breast cancer patients,” Chilson said. “Everyone’s favorite item is the pink pillow. The satin pillowcase is cooling and calming. It’s the perfect size for traveling and is very useful.”
During the month of October, Bill White’s Car Hospital is donating 10% of all proceeds from brake services to PPP with their fundraiser Brakes for Breast Cancer.
“Awareness and support is so important,” Chilson said. “If your friend or family member in DeKalb County was diagnosed with breast cancer, reach out to me and we’ll make sure they get a care package. I want them to know that they’re supported and that they’re not alone.”