Hear how the Bag It bag has helped others impacted by cancer
Having the information and resources contained in the Bag It bag and on this website have helped patients, caregivers and healthcare providers in making the diagnosis, treatment and other aspects of cancer easier.
These are their stories.
Individuals With A Cancer Diagnosis
“After 36 years of fighting fire – I heard the dreaded “C” word – CANCER – My immediate response was “Why me?”
At my first oncology orientation, I was given the Bag It bag. My first thought was “Darn another commercial to sit through,” however the realization sank in that the Bag It bag was to help myself and family cope with this new situation. In going through the Bag It bag, all the content was really helpful. There was so much that I learned and many things I never realized I needed to know.” -Ed
“The bag gave me more information than the 4 doctors I’ve seen, none of them gave me anything like this to help. The notebook helped me organize my health care bills, test results and physician information in one place. It also helped me understand the medical terminology better. I found all the booklets to be extremely helpful.” -Arleen
“Estoy muy agradecido por esta bolsa. Me siento muy contenta, es increible esta ayuda para organizar toda mi información. Muchas gracias, Dios les bendiga.”
“All the information in the Bag It bag helped me understand and have an idea of what the process of my treatment would be like. This helped my confidence as far as not being scared of the unknown and helped me maintain a higher level of communication with my physician regarding my treatment. A great tool for such a stressful time; full of helpful information and a way to get all my personal information organized.” -Alejandro
“I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and on my first visit to my oncologist/surgeon, I was given a Bag It bag. Facing several rounds of chemo and radiation treatments, my bag became my security blanket. Cancer is never easy, but my Bag It bag took a lot of the worry out of the situation I now found myself in. I had no idea what to expect or what I needed to do to keep all this new medical information organized and at my fingertips. I took Bag It everywhere; even on vacation and to work. The Bag It bag is a wonderful tool for cancer patients and their families. Today I am happy to say that I am cancer free, enjoying my life to the fullest. And yes, I still refer to my Bag It binder prior to any doctor’s appointments.” -Deb
“It was 2 days before Thanksgiving when I sat down with my surgeon to discuss the results of my biopsy. In the pit of my stomach I already knew the news wasn’t going to be good – and it wasn’t. After being diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer, everything happened so quickly. The following days were a blur of appointments and tests, as I required immediate medical treatment. I was handed a Bag It bag. I tossed it aside. I was angry, in shock, and I did not know where to turn.
My daughter and I opened the bag a few days later and I found it to be a Godsend – someone out there understood! There was so much vital information inside, and I began to feel a little bit more at ease. My daughter patiently began to fill out the forms in the binder and add my paperwork to each section. Soon the binder never left my side and became my ‘bible’.
After months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I am still fighting the fight of my life. Bag It has saved me more than once and I highly recommend it to all in the same situation out there.” – Hope
“Being told most of your biopsies are clear is not as comforting as the doctor might think. Perhaps he did it that way so I could reach the obvious conclusion before he had to tell me – there’s cancer.
What followed was the standard course humans follow after a cancer diagnosis – a few days of disbelief and denial before confusion and fear set in. Doctors offering differing opinions and tests come back contradicting each other. I knew I had “head & neck” stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma, but what to do? None of us is trained for this.
I needed to survive – read stories of those who had.
I needed to be pushy with doctors – know what needed to be asked.
I needed to get organized.
I needed to understand the options available to me.
I needed to find straightforward information (not the mish mash out there on the internet).
Amazingly, the solution to all of the above was handed to me in a Bag It bag. Today I’m cancer free and I attribute my good health to my wife for her unwavering support and to Bag It for clearing the fog, showing me how to take control, and playing such a major part in me being here to write this testimonial.” – male bag recipient, Tucson, AZ
“Bag It was the calm in the storm in my life when I began the joys of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment. The information filling that bag offered stability and much needed peace through knowledge. The power in that is impossible to overemphasize.
Another major benefit of the bag is the binder. In every way it enables structure in the midst of chaos. Having my medical history, medications and contacts organized came to the aid of my family and support group countless times.” – Jeff
“The first time I heard those dreaded words, “You have cancer.” Cancer! I thought cancer was what other people got. My mind was flooded with questions. How bad is it? Is it curable? How will this affect my family?
When I met with my surgeon, I was given a Bag It bag. At home, I explored the contents. I had the questions and Bag It had the answers.
When I heard those dreaded words a second time my doctor presented me with a new Bag It bag. She apologized that she no longer had my previous lab reports available, and was pleasantly surprised when I told her I had them in my Bag It binder. What worked before can work again!” – Marlene
“When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, your world spins out of control and it’s frightening. Using my Bag It bag helped me organize the confusing and overwhelming paperwork that accompanied my diagnosis. This, of course, was very practical in helping me manage my treatment. However, the greatest gift was the comfort and reassurance that came with regaining some small sense of control.
Bag It helped me understand how I could play a role in my own recovery. That was no small gift. It made a tremendous difference in my approach to my diagnosis. I am incredibly grateful.” -Michele
“The tabs in the guidebook prompted me to do things like take notes, attach handouts, save letters from doctors, which I would not have thought to keep track of from the beginning. I also used the calendar to note appointments (35 radiation appointments are hard to keep track of in your head). I knew that everything was in one place and easily accessible when I needed it, which saved time as the doctor appointments became more frequent.” -Caregiver, Green Valley, AZ
“As a caregiver of a parent, the information was great. If you are like me and don’t know much about cancer and the treatments associated, this is a much needed resource to help.” -Caregiver, Tucson, AZ
We loved our Bag It! Although I feel that we would have benefited by receiving it 2 years earlier. We were given the bag right before immunotherapy and overwhelmed with so much at one time. We did utilize it especially because she was hospitalized after treatment for 2 weeks. One full week in ICU. It was such a blessing to have our Bag It as I was able to locate our copies of bloodwork and various tests, doctors names, cards, phone contacts to give to nurses whenever the shift changed. Since then we have maintained and taken with us to all doctor visits. -Lisa
My mom is currently under hospice care and I believe a “hospice” version would be amazing and so loved for many reasons.
Additionally, a generic version not specific to any cancer at all – just a blessing for any caregiver with a loved one that has dementia, heart issues, etc. Still need to maintain meds, contact, pain management, doctor visits, etc.
We received a bag in August 2012 when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is now an 8 year survivor. That bag with all the information and the binder were a God-send. I especially loved the binder as it was already divided into categories so I didn’t have to think of what went where, or what was essential to keep. A person is already overwhelmed and that binder made everything so much easier. Under the “notes” I would write down every question we had, and wouldn’t leave the appointment until all were answered. His oncologist got to know that binder and would ask – “So, what questions to you have for me today?” He actually loved it as it made the appointment more efficient.
Thank you again for being there. I recommend you to everyone.
Donna B. – Tucson, AZ
“For more than 10 years I have provided BAG IT to my patients and their families. BAG IT provides incredibly valuable and completely reliable information on such things as nutrition, exercise, communication, and coping strategies that offer hope when it’s needed the most-at their initial diagnosis. I honestly could not treat cancer without BAG IT. I am so glad they are on my team!” -Dr.Elizabeth McConnell, MD, FACS, FASCRS
I have given out BAG IT to each and every one of my breast cancer patients over the last decade. In that moment of initial diagnosis, the word “cancer” brings chaos into not only a woman’s life, but her entire family. While I can provide an evidence-based cancer therapy plan, BAG IT contains a plethora of information on how to live beyond the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is an invaluable source of accurate information that helps to restore normal living. Many of my patients tell me how much they learn and feel empowered by the knowledge.
I give to BAG IT’s fund raising efforts each year. I view BAG IT as one of my partners in the quest of not just curing cancer, but restoring normal living to many thousands of women who courageously battled their cancers. Supporting BAG IT so that more and more women can benefit is the least I can do. -Grace Hou, MD
For the past four years, 21st Century Oncology has had the pleasure of working with BAG IT and providing our patients with their outstanding educational resources. We have had an excellent experience with the organization and highly recommend to our patients to read through the content provided by BAG IT. There are not many comprehensive resources like this out there, and it has been very helpful in educating our patients in the many complex aspects of cancer. It is clear that they share our vision of putting patients first. -Steven Finkelstein, MD, Chief Science Officer, 21st Century Oncology, Inc.
*21st Century Oncology had the pleasure of working with BAG IT and providing our patients with their outstanding educational resources. We had an excellent experience with the organization and highly recommend to our patients to read through the content provided by BAG IT. There are not many comprehensive resources like this out there, and it was very helpful in educating our patients in the many complex aspects of cancer. It is clear that they shared our vision of putting patients first. -Steven Finkelstein, MD (*closed practice)
When patients come in for the first time, they are very scared, very uncertain and insecure. Once I provide them with the BAG IT bag, they say they can now sleep better at night because they have more information and know more than when they first came in. They feel more secure asking the doctor questions. They also gain more confidence speaking with their family members.
BAG IT is a great asset to our program for breast cancer survivorship. Thank you so much for all you do and for having them available in Spanish which is important for our community. – Conchita Somoza, Promotora de Salud, (Retired), Mariposa Community Health Center, Nogales
As an oncologist, I see many of my patients become overwhelmed by the amount of information that is provided to them by their cancer care team. Many of them are still dealing with the shock of having been given a diagnosis of cancer when I have that initial visit with them and their families. During the initial visit, I am reviewing pathology reports, imaging studies, and ultimately discussing a treatment plan. The amount of information can be immense leading to anxiety and fear of what lies ahead.
I was first introduced to BAG-IT when I was a 1st year oncology fellow at the University of Arizona. I was visiting a patient in the chemotherapy room when I saw a nurse hand a blue bag to a new chemotherapy patient. I was curious and asked if I could see what is in the bag. I was amazed to see the breadth of information regarding chemotherapy, nutrition, and coping strategies for cancer patients and families that had compiled into this blue bag. The best part was the white binder divided by tabs labeled labs, history, reports, and calendar. I thought to myself what a very simple but useful tool for my patients to feel organized. Since that day, I have been handing out BAG-IT bags to all my oncology patients and not a day goes by that I don’t hear what a blessing it was to have the information provided by BAG-IT.
It wasn’t until I left the University of Arizona and joined Arizona Oncology that I discovered the humble origins of BAG-IT. It was then that I knew it was time to give back to an organization that had helped me provide a wealth of information and organization to my cancer patients. -Dr. Rachel Swart
As a Breast Patient Navigator, I am interacting with patients at the time when they first hear they have cancer. This life changing moment is overwhelming and they are at a loss on what to do next. I have found the Bag It Companion Guidebook to be an invaluable resource for my patients. I go through each section of the book with them and help them understand how to best utilize it. My favorite page in the book is the “Appointment summary log.” It is so important for patients to be informed about their care and treatment plans and to be able to advocate for themselves. The summary log is a great tool for them to document what was said at their appointments, have questions prepared for their doctor, and make sure the appropriate follow-ups happen. So often at the end of my meetings with patients, they tell me how grateful they are to have this resource and that they feel less overwhelmed about how to move forward.
Mandy Davis, Breast Health Patient Navigator, Radiology Limited