Bag It. Guiding one through cancer.
So, it’s National Read a Roadmap week, and I love a bizarre holiday that connects to many things I love and makes me smile. First, I recall being on a road trip a few years ago, and yes we had GPS on our phones and were using that, when we were trying to find maps of the area we were in just because (okay maybe I wanted to use them later to scrapbook the adventure). At the 3rd gas station we found one, it was dated and covered in dust and the employees thought my friend was crazy for wanting one but we were thrilled!
Then a friend was visiting me and in the side panel of my car I have a few maps, because you never know when you might need one. She found this hilarious and took a picture of it to post on social media asking people if they even knew what they were – she couldn’t believe that I had them in my car. (FYI: I have used them from time to time.)
Now I love technology and frequently use digital maps, but it’s always good to have a back-up plan as we know that technology doesn’t work everywhere or your might not have your phone charged or maybe you just appreciate having things in a printed format. Print makes things easier to share and more readily available (but I encourage you to order those maps in advance of your next trip).
How does reading a map and my random stories (that made me smile with the memories) connect to cancer and Bag It?
Reading a roadmap takes some practice, just like understanding cancer. The Bag It bag works as a guide to help those impacted by cancer understand more about their diagnosis and cope with the bumps along the way. When you receive a cancer diagnosis you don’t get the map (digital or print) to go with it. You don’t know the vocabulary, the questions to ask, which treatment to take, or which exit has a support network. You need something to help familiarize you with this experience. Your healthcare team is one guide and a Bag It bag is another valuable guide.
The take-everywhere binder (yep, even on that road trip) helps organize appointments and records (similar to your brochures and itineraries). The booklets provide coping tips, support information, reliable cancer information and questions to ask. It’s all in the bag! You won’t feel lost during or after treatment with Bag It as your guide.
Bag It wants to ensure anyone who wants or needs a bag has them available to them. You can order one as a gift for someone when they are diagnosed with cancer to help them cope or you can order/request one for yourself. They are a doctor-recommended resource for anyone with any type of cancer.
If you don’t currently know anyone who could benefit consider participating in our Spring 2021 Fundraiser – Gift a Bag It Bag. With a $41 contribution you can help provide a source of comfort and the printed navigation tools to help a patient throughout their cancer treatment and beyond.
February is a busy month! We honor love, Martin Luther King Jr., Black history, and even our American presidents, but did you know that World Cancer Day also falls in February? The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) leads the charge in urging everyone to take steps to ensure that preventable cancer deaths are reduced and that there is increased access to life-saving treatments for all patients, “no matter who you are or where you live”. Each year, the UICC establishes a theme for their initiative to shape the many activities and events that kick off around the world each February. This year, the theme is “I Am and I Will” – a call to action to commit and act on steps to get screened and share knowledge in hopes of reducing the number of cancer-related deaths and noncommunicable diseases by one third by 2030 (that’s only 9 years away, so let’s get to it!)
Bag It is aligned with the UICC by providing resources to educate and support patients through their healthcare plan, increasing access to life-saving information regardless of one’s ethnicity or socio-economic background. Bag It provides the tools you need to help you feel more comfortable and confident in speaking up for yourself to ensure the best quality of life with cancer. The contents in the bag are designed to help you and your caregiver(s) cope with the diagnosis, get yourself organized and better understand the language of cancer.
February is cancer prevention month, and we encourage you to think about ways that you can help yourself and others prevent cancer. It’s the perfect time to schedule appointments for you and your loved ones because adhering to the recommended screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal (colon) and lung cancers can lead to early stage diagnosis, which increases the likelihood of treatment working.
What action will you take as we kick off World Cancer Day? Take the 21-Day challenge to learn more about cancer and how to reduce your cancer risks. Some suggestions:
As part of my campaign I participated in the World Cancer Day 21-Day Challenge which was informative and easy and I wrote this blog: I will schedule my mammogram (and a colonoscopy this year) and encourage people to schedule their appointments, and I will work to ensure that everyone diagnosed with cancer receives a Bag It bag to help them cope with their diagnosis and feel comfortable and confident speaking up to ensure they are living their best life with cancer.
Sending positive vibes your way,
Preventcancer.org recommends these seven steps to help prevent cancer.
Bag It had the opportunity to be part of the University of Arizona Cancer Center Community Outreach & Engagement “Let’s Taco ‘Bout Cancer!” Webinar Series. We were able to share information and details about the Bag It bag and what is offered.
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.
? Check out our Pinterest Board about resources from Bag It!
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.
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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.
Stay safe, stay healthy, be kind, be grateful!