SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Cancer is a scary diagnosis, and the treatment can be exhausting and painful. That’s why one Sioux Falls woman has set out to bring a smile to those fighting through all of the appointments and chemotherapy.
Cancer is something Rachel Schuldt knows all too well.
“I have lost all of my grandparents now. All four of my grandparents have passed away all as a result of cancer, so it runs very heavily in my family. My sister was diagnosed last year at the age of 38 with breast cancer. She is a survivor. So it hits home very much,” Schuldt said.
That’s why she wants to help others who are battling.
“My grandma at the time was battling cancer and it was so overwhelming. So many doctor appointments, so much devastating news that I thought, ‘what is something that would bring a smile to her face or help people going through something similar,'” Schuldt said.
That’s when she made her first chemo comfort bag. Six years later, she hasn’t stopped. The bags are filled with comfort items like blankets, fuzzy socks, gum, peppermints, crossword puzzles and more.
“I’ve talked with people that have had family members that have gone through it, learned a lot about peppermints, sanitizer, Kleenex, just the little things that may help when they’re going through the treatments. Something to keep them busy,” Schuldt said.
Schuldt donates the bags twice a year in March and October to Avera and Sanford in Sioux Falls, as well as the June E. Nylen Cancer Center in Sioux City, where her grandmother underwent treatment.
Schuldt never meets the recipients herself, but Jennifer Peterson, a patient advocate with Avera Oncology, says the bags bring a hopeful light during a hard time.
“We hand them off to our patients when they’re starting their chemo. The patients are very surprised and very thankful for these chemo bags. They know that there’s strangers out there that are thinking and caring for them,” Peterson said.
Next month, Schuldt says she’ll deliver her 1000th bag. Her passion of putting smiles on faces in need could use some help, though.
“I’m at the point where the more I can spread the word, the more people I can get on board with this, the more I can give, the more people it makes a difference in their lives,” Schuldt said.
The project’s biggest need at the moment is donations to buy the bags. You can also sponsor a bag for $25, which pays for the bag itself and everything inside.
You can reach Rachel Schuldt on her Facebook page, Delivering Hope – Chemo Comfort Care Bags.