Chemo Angels

By HEATHER R. SMITH,
Times-Mail Staff Writer

To a woman in New Jersey, Bedford resident Bridgett Owens is an angel - a
Chemo Angel.

Owens participates in a program where people who volunteer as
"angels" send encouraging cards and gifts to cancer patients going through
chemotherapy or other treatments.

Owens was assigned to the woman in Peapack, N.J., in early March. The women, a mother of two sons, ages 2 and 4, suffers from bone sarcoma.

Owens got her first assignment - or as the program calls it, she got her wings -
on Christmas Eve of 2001. But her first patient died in January. Owens was a special assignment angel until she got her new assignment.

Special assignment angels send cards to someone who already has a full-time angel but needs extra encouragement.

Owens sends cards to her patient every week and small gifts on holidays,
birthdays and special occasions. Inside her cards, she includes small gifts
such as bookmarks, pass-it-on cards and stickers, and she decorates the
envelope with stickers and artwork.

She also drops in poems or jokes she finds on the Internet and glues onto
colored paper.

"Anything that might cheer her up," Owens said.

Owens recently met with another Indiana Chemo Angel, Judy Price from
Edinburgh. The two women met at the Golden Corral in Bedford to offer
support to each another and share gift ideas.

The women also made a trip to the Bedford post office to drop off their
weekly shipments.

"They know my face, I am there (the post office) so much," Owens said.

There are 30 Chemo Angels in Indiana, including one in Salem and one in
French Lick.

Owens has helped people she doesn't personally know since she was a child, when she began by sponsoring children in other countries.

The agency she worked through did not require her to send money but rather small gifts mailed to the sponsored child on birthdays and holidays and special times of the year.

"I've always helped with children that are sick and I got onto two web sites
for sick kids - 
www.hugsandhome.com and www.MakeAChildSmile.com."

On one of those sites Owens found a link to the Chemo Angels web site,

www.chemoangels.com.

"We believe that people who are going through the physical, emotional and
mental rigors of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or other cancer therapies deserve some pampering and special treatment," Chemo Angel's founder Laura Armstrong writes on her web site.

"Many of our Chemo Angel volunteers are cancer survivors themselves, or
people whose lives have been affected by cancer in some way. We are
homemakers, professionals, retired people, and students. Our common
denominator is a desire to brighten the lives of cancer patients while they
are going through this challenging time."

The idea for Chemo Angels stemmed from the relationship between Armstrong and a woman going through chemotherapy. Armstrong met the woman online and sent cards and small gifts every week to encourage her while she endured her treatments.

After the treatments ended, the woman expressed thanks to Armstrong and gave her the nickname "Chemo Angel."

From that first experience, Armstrong started the Chemo Angels program to give other
people the opportunity to encourage those who need it.

For more information or to apply as a patient or volunteer, go to

www.chemoangels.com.

 

"When pain and anguish wring the brow, a ministering angel are thou."
   -- Sir Walter Scott