Good Samaritan Oncology Grateful for Kindness of Community

Battling cancer can take a toll on a person. In the midst of all the tests, treatments, scans and doctor visits, patients and their families are also overwhelmed with feelings of uncertainty and trepidation. Knowing the constant struggle cancer patients are facing is the driving force behind some amazing people in Knox County. Their compassion and kindness for others truly make a difference in the lives of Good Samaritan patients, and makes the trips to chemotherapy or the doctor a little easier.

The Wabash Homemakers group has been donating hard candy to Good Samaritan patients for well over a year. A few of the hospital volunteers are part of this group and wanted to provide something to help with taste changes associated with chemotherapy medications and saline used to flush patient IV lines. “The Wabash Homemakers group is a vital part of our department and some of the most caring, generous people I have known,” said Reneé Richardville, Nurse Manager of the Outpatient Infusion Center. “We are so fortunate to have them as our volunteers.”

The Homemakers group has 20 active members made up of a variety of women from all walks of life including teachers, volunteers, mothers and retirees. “My friends who were going through chemotherapy mentioned that hard candy helped during their treatments, so our group began donating candy to the patients,” said Barbara Holscher, Wabash Homemaker member and Infusion Center Volunteer. “My mother passed away from breast cancer 48 years ago and I always say ‘she lost the fight but cancer did not win the war.’ Volunteering at Good Samaritan in the Cancer Center is the best feeling ever. I have made some very dear friends and feel like I am battling right along side them. The nurses are awesome and a feeling of love and hope hits you as soon as you walk through the doors.”

Good Samaritan volunteer, Carla Silvers, also unfortunately lost her mother, Marsha, to cancer a year ago on February 2, 2017. In memory of her mother, she and her aunt, Paula Hawkins, along with the Greene County Brownie Troop 3404, purchase snacks and put together treat bags for Good Samaritan oncology patients. They regularly stop by the Oncology Department to bring more items, and even provide special Christmas treat bags during the holidays. “I donate these treat bags as a thank you to everyone at the Cancer Center for their devotion and care of my mother when she was battling cancer,” said Silvers. Patients enjoy the snacks and look forward to taking a bag each time they come.

The Rivet Interact Group, facilitated by Dana Worland, have also donated special treat bags and lap blankets for the patients. The treat bags include extra amenities such as small bottles of water, hand sanitizer and lip balm. The group is a “service club” sponsored by the Vincennes Rotary Club and composed of 45 high school students. The group participates in service projects within the community that will “make a difference” in the lives of others.

The items provided by the students add comfort to patients, especially the lip balm that protects patients from dry, cracked lips that can lead to infection. “Many of the patients and families will not purchase these items for themselves since they feel they can do without; however, they realize how the little things can make their treatments easier,” said Richardville.

“One of our group members’ father was a cancer patient at Good Samaritan who unfortunately passed away last fall,” stated Worland. “The student mentioned that when patients are going through infusion treatments, their mouth’s get dry, sometimes they are cold, and in general, don’t always feel well. She suggested the treat bags and the other members of the group were on board right away. A few weeks later, we delivered 150 bags to Good Samaritan with notes and inspirational messages for the patients.”

Since the Rivet Interact Group’s inception in 2013, Worland has been the leader and approximately 50 students participate each year. “The students get a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing they are making a difference in peoples lives, especially the patients in the Infusion Center at Good Samaritan,” said Worland.

During chemotherapy treatments, patients may have different reactions. One side effect during their infusion is the feeling of being cold. To provide extra comfort, inmates who are a part of the PLUS program at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana make and donate quilts to Good Samaritan cancer patients. The use of quilting machines and hand sewing are used for each quilt made in the program. Inmates can request to be in the Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program and are accepted based on their behavior.

Amy Wright, Infirmary Charge Nurse and Nursing Supervisor, runs the Compassionate Care Program that these inmates are a part of. “We enjoy making these quilts for different organizations and patients at Good Samaritan,” said Wright. “Our program provides an environment where the prisoners are able to show compassion and it sets them on a path of doing good for the future. The quilts are just something little we can provide for the oncology patients.”

Good Samaritan is extremely thankful for the donations given to patients in the Cancer Center. Although those who donate may think their contributions are small, they have a huge impact on the health and happiness of patients. “The donations we receive from everyone brings a smile to the patient’s face,” said Richardville. “When there is a treat bag waiting for them on their treatment chair or when they can pick a nice lap blanket to use and keep makes the world of difference to them. Remaining positive is very important to our patient’s well-being and it is nice for them to know that someone out there cares about them.”

Not only are the patients thankful for the kindness of these individuals and groups, but so are the staff. Maintaining a positive and hopeful atmosphere in the Cancer Center can be challenging at times, but it is made easier because of the generous donations. “We are very fortunate to have both our hospital volunteers and community groups donate items and spend their time with our patients,” added Richardville. “I just want everyone to know how much it is appreciated by patients, families and staff. They are making a difference for our patients every day.”

Those interested in making donations to Good Samaritan’s Cancer Center can contact Reneé Richardville at 812-885-3653. For more information on how to volunteer in the Cancer Center, or in other areas of the hospital, please call Volunteer Services at 812-885-3120.

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