Chemo Care Baskets being assembled today (April 25) by Students for the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center will be distributed to newly diagnosed neuro-oncology patients at UP Health System Marquette.
“We hope the baskets will lessen the blow of their diagnosis a bit and let them know we’re thinking of them even if we don’t know them personally,” said Amanda Wigand, a biology graduate student and member of the organization. “All of the items have a purpose related to the patients’ treatment. There are mints and hard candies because chemo can create a metal taste in the mouth. There’s also lip balm and lotion for dryness, a hat because hospitals can get cold at times, a water bottle and straw so they can hydrate easier, a magazine for a distraction and a candy bar if they develop an appetite for something sweet.”
When a similar basket popped up on her Pinterest feed, Wigand thought it could be adapted to the unique needs of neuro-oncology patients. She and other NMU students are gaining research experience related to glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive cancerous brain tumor, through the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center. The UMBTC is a collaboration of UP Health System Marquette and NMU.
“I was looking at the different proteins expressed in human tumor samples for my thesis research,” Wigand said. “Other students look at different pathways and receptors that may be active or inhibited within GBM tumors. We’re researching different things, but with the common hope that it will lead to longer patient survival. The closest we get to neuro-oncology patients is collecting tumor samples. We don’t always see the clinical side, but I can only imagine what patients must go through. The Chemo Care Baskets tie us back to why we’re doing the research.”
The student group received financial support for the project from the UMBTC and Superior Health Foundation, along with lip balm donations from the Gwinn-based Just Believe organization. Students are assembling 50 baskets today at River Valley Bank, sponsor of the annual Hope Starts Here Challenge fundraiser for the UMBTC. They hope to put together more baskets in the fall.
Hope Starts Here will be held Saturday, May 7, at Lakeview Arena. Participants can choose to complete a duathlon, half marathon, 10K, 5K or leisurely walk. For more information or to register, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Marquette/HopeStartsHereChallenge.