Heartfelt Appreciation for Fleece Hearts Made by TeamMates for Cancer Patients
TeamMates staff delivered over 300 fleece hearts to the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center on January 16. The soft, stuffed hearts were made by TeamMates mentees and mentors for the Heart to Hold project, which provides cancer patients with a handmade fleece heart to hold while undergoing radiation treatment.
Dr. Mark Stavas, of Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center, started the Heart to Hold project at a previous practice in Tennessee and had been looking for a group to help him introduce it to his Nebraska patients. TeamMates matches were happy to help, with over 100 matches participating in December’s community service project.
Dr. Stavas estimates 60 Cancer Center patients undergo radiation treatment in a week, with most receiving treatment daily. The radiation sessions last 20 to 30 minutes, and a typical treatment plan consists of six weeks of daily sessions. Patients must stay still inside a radiation vault, but are able to grip small items, like the fabric hearts, for comfort. Dr. Stavas hopes the hearts serve as a reminder that the patient is not alone in their journey and serve as “a metaphor for spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.”
Tracy, a patient at Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center, was the first recipient of a TeamMates heart. The heart reminded her that people were in her corner. “I really value the community support and community involvement,” she said. The opportunity for mentees to learn the value of giving back to their communities is an added bonus, stating, “I think [it’s] important to start early with kids,” adding that she hopes TeamMates mentees will continue participating in community service into adulthood.