When you have a question about something, where do you go to find out about it? Did you say “Google”? Okay, I know there are rebels out there, and some of you did not say google (*ahem* library development people, I’m looking at you). But for real, though, it is google, right? I love google. First of all, it’s just fun to say. And over the past few years, I’m pretty sure it’s become my second brain. But it does have a downside. It can lead me on a path to self-diagnosis and worst-case scenarios about something as small as a hangnail.
Now, imagine what happens when someone receives a cancer diagnosis. Is Google really the best place to turn for reliable and accurate information? And, yes, there are some wonderful organizations out there with excellent resources available online, but how do navigate the information without overwhelming yourself with all the possible negative outcomes? How do you know what to even look for?
Mindy Griffith is the Executive Director of BAG IT! Her organization educates, empowers, and connects cancer patients and their caregivers with the right information at the time when they need it most. The resources they create and curate not only provide a road map to help people navigate a cancer diagnosis, they also offer a step-by-step method for organizing necessary medical records throughout treatment.
Mindy also happens to be only the second Executive Director this organization has ever had, and so you know I had to ask her about how the transition went when the founder stepped down. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by Mindy’s journey from being an elementary school teacher to becoming the Executive Director of a small nonprofit in Tuscon, Arizona.
Mindy joined the Bag It team in 2016 as the Volunteer & Event Coordinator and was selected to be the Executive Director in April 2017.
With overall strategic and operational responsibility for Bag It and the Escape to Thrive programming, Mindy is responsible for the overall strategy and operations of the organization and is truly inspired to work with such a dynamic and committed group of individuals.
Mindy, previously an elementary school teacher and administrator, is passionate about education and the role of lifetime learning. A native of Ohio, Mindy moved to Arizona in 1998. While she loves to travel, she also loves having Tucson as her home.
Happy April – March was certainly a bit of a lion (no matter what the saying means) – she roared for us. These are uncharted times for all of us. Those with cancer and other immunocompromised health issues are weighing heavily on my mind, but I also know you are resilient and have the opportunity to show the rest of us how you do it every day!
A huge thank you and show of appreciation for all of those in healthcare who are continuing to provide services to those with cancer and all of those in our communities – YOU ARE AMAZING and we appreciate the sacrifices you are making for others.
The Bag It team wants you all to know that we are thinking of you. There are lots of resources out there so please check out our coronavirus page to help support and update those of you impacted by cancer. And please feel free to share other resources with us. We are all working remotely and continuing to fulfill our mission of educating, supporting and empowering everyone impacted by cancer.
Bag It bags continue to be shipped out. The tools provided by Bag It are helpful for those with cancer and other diseases, or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Print out a log or blank calendar page and track what is happening. I’m using the calendar as a quick journal so when I look back and scrapbook these days of quarantine I can remember the positive moments during this time.
We are all embracing new challenges each day (working from home, teaching our children, physical distancing, and more) so we hope you are able to find something positive each day from this situation. Stay physically active, eat well, wash your hands, distance yourself physically, but cherish the zoom calls, phone calls or letter writing options to stay connected or reconnect with friends, family and colleagues. It’s important to connect with others and keep your spirits up.
If you need anything – a chat, a card, a Bag It bag – let us know as we want to support you today and everyday. In addition, although Bag It does not provide financial assistance there are many programs out there that do and we have many of them listed on our resource page so check them out. Also, many pharmaceutical companies have resources to help with your care or medication so check out their websites.
I sponsored a Bag it bag to help an individual impacted by cancer feel informed, empowered, and supported throughout their treatment journey. I never imagined this donation would also result in my own wellness journey and lasting benefits.
I was fortunate to be the winner of Bag It’s 2018 drawing and booked my stay at Miraval Arizona in December, looking forward to a relaxing weekend to reflect on the year. The experience at Miraval was so much more that I expected, and the people and activities left a positive impact that I appreciate daily.
Relaxation: Exploring the beauty of the resort property and visits to the labyrinth provided the ideal mental space to decompress.
Expansion: Encouraged to step out of my comfort zone, I participated in my first Zumba class which was the most fun, accepting, and laughter-filled fitness experience I’ve ever had.
Reflection: Through meditation activities, I explored emotions and strengths, vowing to reprioritize
Connection: I enjoyed truly meaningful conversations with staff and guests, reinvigorated by the kindness and compassion shared in these interactions.
We have all been impacted by cancer. Some have experienced it personally, others through a family member or friend, or a hero or celebrity we admire. Last month I sent a Bag It bag to a colleague recently diagnosed with cancer. While she thanked me, she indicated she had received information from her doctors. A few days later, she reached out to share how comprehensive the Bag It resources are, expressing how they have been a helpful addition to the information she previously received. The resources developed by Bag It are invaluable. I appreciate Miraval Arizona’s support of Bag It’s important work to inform, empower, and support individuals impacted by cancer.
“I was shocked.” This, perhaps not surprisingly, was Sherri Romanoski’s response to being told back in 2000, at the age of 48, that she had breast cancer.
“I was shocked.”
“It hit me hard. I was full of fear,” said Sherri.
Along with that fear can sometimes come a sense of powerlessness—how do I combat a disease I don’t fully understand?—and a lot of questions. What’s my cancer treatment plan? How long will it take? What can I do outside of the doctor’s appointments right now to help make a positive difference? How do I tell my family? What do I share, if anything, at work? What do I do about side effects? How am I going to pay for all these medications?