2017 Third Quarter Casual for a Cause Recipient – Chemo Buddies

2017 Third Quarter Casual for a Cause Recipient – Chemo Buddies

Written by Jill Kincaid

What is chemo like? My story of cancer and hope…

As I gazed out the large treatment room window today I saw the men out there on the lawn cutting the grass and smiled. That’s always a welcome sight in chemo –  sitting there alone with your thoughts that mowing gives you something else to focus on during your long treatment day.

Busy people, retired people, poor people, rich people, skinny people and well rounded people  – people from every conceivable background – sitting still in their recliner and staring at the men cutting the lawn for a moment of distraction to take their mind off of where they are.

Can you imagine going to a doctors appointment and sitting there for 4-8 hours? Most of us would lose patience quickly and hit the road. I get annoyed if I have to wait more than 15 minutes! But cancer patients don’t have that luxury, the chemo day is a long one and all who enter the treatment room quickly surrender to the art of being still.

My sister Karen entered this world of cancer in 2007. She did 6 months of chemo all by herself. All of our lives changed with that diagnosis and we all did whatever we could to help her, but she didn’t want to burden anyone with the task of sitting and waiting with her for a full day during chemo. In her mind, that was just too much to ask. Too big of a burden. When her cancer returned with a vengeance in 2010, I begged her to let me go with her. After several conversations, she relented.

The first time I entered the treatment room I was shell shocked – although it was a beautiful room – it was deathly still. No one talked to one another, most people were alone, and the faces of fear and anxiety were everywhere. The only sound was the intermittent beeping of an IV announcing that this bag was now empty.

Karen was there for 8 hours – first in, last out. We talked, we laughed, we lost each other in telling tales and recounting memories as only sisters can do. We both came away from that first day thinking it was a wonderful day! We celebrated by going to Red Lobster afterwards because we weren’t ready to say goodbye just yet.

She just kept saying what a difference it made to have someone there with her, and she could not believe how much better she felt about treatment this time around. She was actually looking forward to our next treatment day and spending it together.

When round 2 came, I was more prepared. I brought snacks, my laptop and my phone with a hot new app, “Words with Friends.” We shopped online for things she needed, and she laughed at me relentlessly as I lost game after game even though I was using a cheater app for Words with Friends. When it came to games, Karen always won, I never had a chance. All day long I served her drinks and snacks and got her whatever she needed like a blanket and pillow. It is difficult for patients to get up and move around because they are connected to an IV all day.

As we traveled this chemo road, Karen began to notice how many people around us were alone and had no one to run and get them things. Not surprisingly, she began to order me around every time she noticed someone else needed something. “Go get that man a blanket, you can tell he’s cold,” or “Who needs a refill? Jill will get it for you!” And I didn’t mind one bit. It was rewarding to feel helpful and needed. I may have been helpless to do anything about Karen’s cancer, but I wasn’t helpless in making the experience a better one. She began calling me her Chemo Buddy.

One day it occurred to me that the treatment room was different than we first started. It seemed livelier. People talked to each other now, it was okay to laugh and it felt more like a big family traveling this road together. I knew our neighbors drink preferences and what they needed and sometimes would grab what they wanted before they even got to their chair.

As Karen and I were sitting there in the treatment room one day, she jokingly said, “Soon they’re gonna ask you to come every day to be everyone’s Chemo Buddy.” We laughed, and then, in a moment of clarity we both looked at each other with that look you get when you are both thinking the same thing. I whipped out my laptop and we spent the rest of the day writing a proposal where volunteers would help out in the treatment room called Chemo Buddies. It took us a couple of weeks to come up with a finished product, but we worked hard on identifying all the ways that someone could help make the day better for patients and for the staff.

We gave the proposal to her oncologist and he responded, “Intriguing,” we should talk about this sometime. And that is where our grand idea ended. As Karen’s prognosis worsened, neither one of us gave any thought to Chemo Buddies. On July 25, 2011, Karen passed away from Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

I was crushed. Despondent. Inconsolable.

About a month after her death, someone told me that they thought that I was supposed to do something with this cancer experience I had just had. As the words came out of his mouth, I knew exactly what my new assignment was – to honor Karen’s wish that no one should ever have to go through chemo alone. I got my laptop out and went to the state of Indiana website to incorporate Chemo Buddies. Next step, the IRS to file for 501c3 status. It was surprisingly easy.

In January 2012, I put on the first yellow Chemo Buddies apron and stepped back into the treatment room for the first time since I had been there with Karen. SO MANY PEOPLE. I took a deep breath, smiled and pressed on.

Today, I am so happy to tell you that Chemo Buddies serves patients in every treatment facility in our region. At OHA, the Chancellor Center, Deaconess Clinic and Methodist Hospital in Henderson. This year, we will have over 50,000 patient contacts, and we also serve family members who accompany the patient. We see the treatment room as our living room and we do everything we possibly can to make the chemo day a pleasant one. We have made some life long friends in that room and any volunteer at any location will tell you that it is one of the most rewarding things that you can do. Cancer is a scary scary thing, and we do our best to bust the fear and help people find their hope again.

I’m not in the treatment room anymore, with so many locations, I have transitioned to the administrative side of things to keep the program running smoothly. But I do get to read the mail and reap the compliments from the hard work of our amazing volunteers. Every single time I smile, because I know it is the heart of my sister Karen that made it all possible. Folks don’t know who Karen is, but I know this huge act of love is her legacy to her kindness.

When the wonderful people of Payne Wealth Partners called to let us know we would be their chosen charity this quarter, it was an answer to prayer. As a local non profit, we do not receive any grants or funding from a “mother ship,” and summertime giving is always extremely low as people travel and enjoy their summer. While many people donate to cancer research and finding a cure, we are the only local charity that helps people on the front lines of their cancer battle. We are fortunate to have our offices donated inside one of the treatment facilities, so we have no regular overhead and the donations go to patient care.

When a patient shivers and we give them a heated throw, or a patient remarks that they desperately need a chocolate fix and we suddenly appear with a Hershey’s basket, or any of the thousand other things we do every day in the treatment room – you can know that you made it all possible by your donation. Your neighbors, your family, your community – you are helping us to help them, and we are all so grateful!

PS Do you love food? Love helping people with cancer? Get your tickets now at https://chemobuddies.eventbrite.com for A Taste Of Hope to benefit Cancer Patients! Giving hope one bite at a time!


The Payne Wealth Partners team participates in Casual for a Cause every Friday throughout the year. This program wonderfully reflects our commitment to the community. Each quarter, one team member chooses a charity to support, to which all team members then make a personal monetary donation and dress casually on Fridays. As a company, Payne Wealth Partners also donates money to that charity. We value sharing our resources, time, and talents with organizations in the Evansville and Tri-State area, and Casual for a Cause participation is one of many ways we do so.

The information in this material is only as current as the date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. While all information prepared in this document is believed to be accurate, any statements of opinion constitute only current opinions of Payne Wealth Partners, Inc., which are subject to change and which Payne Wealth Partners, Inc. does not undertake to update. Accordingly, you should not put undue reliance on these statements. The information does not attempt to examine all the facts and circumstances that may be relevant to an individual’s financial needs. Payne Wealth Partners, Inc. is not soliciting any action based on these statements.

Contact Our Offices

Payne Wealth Partners, Inc.
Keystone Financial Consulting
601 N Cross Pointe Blvd
Evansville, IN 47715
Phone: 812-477-6221
Toll Free: 888-477-6221
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