Necessity Bags provide comfort to breast cancer patients
Entrepreneur and cancer survivor Amanda Fredericks drew on her experience battling Stage 3 breast cancer to develop a thoughtful, practical way to support women undergoing cancer treatment: the Necessity Bag. Filled with items she relied on during her chemotherapy, the Necessity Bag is designed specifically to comfort women as the treatment to eradicate cancer alters their body’s chemistry.
“I went into chemotherapy scared and unsure of how my body would react,” said Fredericks, who spent 16 weeks in chemotherapy before undergoing a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. “A dear friend sent me a list of the things that helped her through her battle with cancer. I took that list and created the first ever Necessity Bag that went with me to every chemotherapy appointment – it felt like my little bit of armor against the disease.”
Now Fredericks is packing Necessity Bags for others. After defeating cancer, she began recommending a bag similar to what she carried to friends who were diagnosed with cancer.
“The reaction I got was so overwhelmingly positive that I wanted to help more people heal and get through the process,” Fredericks said. “That was when I created the Necessity Bag.”
Fredericks and business partner Megan Leto, also a breast cancer survivor, pack each bag with a cozy blanket, an aluminum water bottle, a journal, a bookmark, headphones, a cotton beanie, soothing essential oils, throat lozenges, hot/cold packs and organic lotion.
The bags themselves are washable, tip-proof BOGG bags, which are lightweight and waterproof and come in multiple color options.
When a loved one is facing breast cancer, we are often at a loss for how to help. Family and community support are crucial to patients during this time, perhaps more so for the lesbian, bisexual and transgender community than any other.
Although sexual orientation has no impact on a person’s risk for breast cancer, a 2011 study by the Institute of Medicine found that lesbians and bisexual women have higher rates of breast cancer than heterosexual women. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2010 found that lesbians and bisexual women also get less routine health care than other women, including colon, breast, and cervical cancer screening tests.
Why? According to the American Cancer Society, low rates of health insurance, fear of discrimination and negative experiences with health care providers are contributing factors to the higher rates of breast cancer in lesbians and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women. Transgender men are also at risk, said Dr. Denise Johnson Miller, Director of Breast Surgery at Meridian Health in New Jersey.
“Depending on whether they’ve had a complete mastectomy versus a subcutaneous mastectomy, transgender men may still be at risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Johnson Miller said. “It’s important for any person who was born female, if they still have breast tissue, to have regular clinical exams.”
A Necessity Bag full of comforting items specially selected for women undergoing radiation and/or chemotherapy is a practical way to show a loved one that she has your support during this physically, mentally and emotionally difficult time.
“Whether it’s treatment preparation for yourself or for a loved one while you sit and feel helpless, a Necessity Bag is a beautiful gift,” Fredericks said. “It brings a sense of comfort and love during treatment, and when it is over, the bag can be filled with good memories for years to come.”
Necessity Bags are available online at www.necessitybag.com and can be shipped anywhere in the Continental United States.
Encourage your friends in the LBT community to get screened regularly. To learn more about what you can do to help reduce cancer risk, visit www.cancer.org or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.