Gift of a smile where it's needed most
Gerry "Nan" DeMeo received endless support from friends and relatives in December as she underwent radiation treatment for breast cancer.
But it was the goodwill of strangers that really struck her. DeMeo received one of the gift baskets that a volunteer group distributes to patients at Forbes Regional Hospital's Intercommunity Cancer Center in Monroeville.
"I was like a little kid with an Easter basket," said DeMeo, 80, of Turtle Creek, who recalled getting a basket stuffed with goodies such as candy, hot chocolate and lip gloss. "I was speechless, to tell the truth."
When her family saw how the gift lifted her spirits, they decided to return the favor by putting together gift bags of their own. On Friday, four generations of DeMeo's family, including her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter, will pass out Valentine's Day gift bags to patients and staff at the cancer center.
"She was so happy about (the gift basket) and so excited," said granddaughter Lauren Conway of Monroeville. "I thought it would be really cute to do something for not only the patients, but the employees at the intercommunity cancer center, just really as a gift of gratitude from our entire family to show how thankful we are that they took such good care of her."
Daughter Gerry McLaughlin of Monroeville asked her volunteer group, Verizon Pioneers, to sponsor the event, which they are calling "Hugs from Nan." Relatives pitched in money to fill red and white gift bags with a variety of treats, including lemon drops, bath soap, stationery and heart-shaped Smiley cookies donated by Eat'n Park.
The family made 35 bags for patients and 15 to give to the center's staff. DeMeo, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, said she wanted to include the employees because they always reassured her and kept her informed about her treatment.
"They were always concerned," she said. "They were always asking, 'How do you feel?'"
Beth Madrishin, the center's supervisor, said patients always appreciate getting gifts because it reminds them people are thinking about them. The Valentine's Day theme is perfect, she said, because there typically aren't events for patients around this holiday.
"I think it's a great time of year to pick because it really is a holiday that's all about love," she said. "Now these people will be thought of, and they know they're being thought of by someone who just had treatment."
DeMeo received radiation treatment at the center, which is part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, in December and January after undergoing two lumpectomies. The treatment was successful, and there are no traces of cancer, her family said.
McLaughlin said doctors were able to detect the cancer at its earliest stage because her mother gets annual mammograms.
"Early detection is the key," McLaughlin said.
Although DeMeo won't have to return to the center for treatment, she and her family plan to visit every year to pass out more Valentine's Day gift bags.
"It's just a simple way to say thanks, really," Conway said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Evaporating cap on Pa. gasoline taxes to offset drops at pump
- Steelers defense takes aim at Ravens QB Flacco
- Coastal Division lead within reach for Panthers
- Penguins GM Rutherford: Malkin’s play belies fact he missed training camp
- Penn Hills man arrested in fatal Elliott home invasion
- McKeesport rewarded for risk taken at end of 1st half, beats Mt. Lebanon, 35-10
- Steelers notebook: Ravens enter short-handed at tight end
- High school football roundup: No. 13 Riverside upsets Beth-Center in 1st round
- Young leads Pitt’s new-look lineup past IUP in exhibition opener
- Nude photos of Penn Hills High School students spur investigation
- Ferrante, wife were at odds over trip