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The Amazing Jennifer Tom and her Positively Pink Packages
In a year and a half since Positively Pink Packages (hereafter known as PPP) was incorporated and received its 501C3, Jennifer Tom, its founder and director, has distributed over 500 care packages to breast cancer patients and in each one of those packages was a WomenStories video. She has recently received a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Central New York that will enable her to distribute 1,000 more PPPs to Chemotherapy patients in the 17 counties surrounding Syracuse.

In May of 2003 Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to 15 lymph nodes. She was 32, had lost her mother to ovarian cancer a year previously, and had had no experience with breast cancer. She was lucky to have a surgical oncologist who was kind and supportive, who gave her a book by Vicky Gerard There’s No Place Like Hope that she carried around with her for the duration of her treatment. Jennifer’s treatment was extensive: bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, chemotherapy, radiation, and hysterectomy because she was BRCA2 positive. During this time the idea of PPP began to take shape.

Jennifer wrote a business plan, and began contacting organizations to give her free books, pamphlets, videos (that’s WomenStories!), turbans, and pillows. Her mission was to support the physical, emotional and educational needs of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in Onondaga County by providing care packages without charge. She started with her own oncologist and the Community General Hospital in Syracuse, giving each place 25 PPPs. This idea was so successful that she branched out to surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and breast centers. She is currently providing care packages to Onondaga and Cayuga counties and hopes to expand into other counties soon.

PPP has developed three different packages:

• Diagnosis: a care package that contains a video, a book, pamphlets, area program and support group information, a writing journal, pocket calendar, and a comfort pillow. Women over 50 get a burgundy toile bag and younger women (under 50) get a black toile bag.

• Chemotherapy: a care package that contains a video, information about chemotherapy, tools to cope with the side effects, and comfort aids; such as satin pillowcase, herbal tea, non-irritating cleanser, head turban and mints.

• Radiation: a care package that contains a video, information about radiation therapy, non-irritating cleanser, and products that are designed exclusively for a patient undergoing radiation therapy (non-metallic deodorant, skincare lotion).

Jennifer’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her area for PPPs is constantly growing. We would not be surprised if before too long she will blanket all of New York State! WomenStories salutes Jennifer Tom whose hope knows no bounds.

Photo Credit: David Lassman - The Post-Standard