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Hamilton Health Sciences Home
November 28, 2018

Comfort items donated for cancer patients

As a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Bryanna King witnesses some of the hardest times in patients’ lives. When she saw tote bags being donated to patients undergoing chemotherapy at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC), she knew she wanted to get involved.

“I see these patients on a regular basis, so it really hit close to home for me,” reflects Bryanna.

Bryanna connected with Caren Funnell who has been donating tote bags to the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation since 2015. She uses the commission she earns through her job at Thirty-One Gifts, to purchase the totes and fill them with different items such as, fuzzy socks, skin care items, nail polish, candy, and hygiene products. “Basically anything that will help make their stay at the JCC more comfortable,” says Bryanna. The girls also accept donations from anyone who would like to donate items and funds to the cause.

The first time Caren donated, she was able to put together 24 tote bags. Now, three years later Caren and her team donate around 150 totes about three times a year. “I feel like I’m in a position where I can help, so I should,” she says.

Hearing from a patient

Over a dozen large tote bags are lined up in a hallway

Christine Lynn Watts, is a patient at JHCC. She received a tote bag when she was in treatment for head and neck cancer. It made a difficult experience a little easier. “It made me feel important, like I was more than just a patient,” she said through tears, reflecting on the gift. “Someone had remembered me and cared enough to give me a tote.” Christine carries the tote—a beautiful purple bag with white stripes—with her to every appointment. She’s incredibly grateful to Caren, Bryanna, and the rest of their team for making this possible.

Caren and her team give the totes to the Supportive Care Department through the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation. They are then distributed to patients based on need.

“Starting treatment is one of the hardest journeys in our patients’ lives, and sometimes they are admitted so quickly that they don’t even have time to go home and pack a bag. Being able to provide patients with a tote not only gives them some comfort items, but it also tells them that someone is thinking about them and supporting them through this challenging time,” says Bryanna. “It would be amazing if we could get enough people to sponsor the totes so that we could give one to every patient at JHCC.”

If you would like to learn how to get involved, please contact Caren at