Woman leads legacy of compassion with comfort bags for Maryland cancer patients

Caregiver, carer hand holding elder hand woman in hospice care. Philanthropy kindness to disabled concept.Public Service Recognition Week(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Pornpak Khunatorn)

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Jami Strickland kept her mother’s legacy of compassion alive Monday when she donated 102 comfort bags to cancer patients at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.

Strickland is originally from Frostburg. Although she now resides in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, she still has numerous family members in Allegany County. On Monday, she visited the Western Maryland Health System Schwab Cancer Center in honor of her mother, Sharon Jean Garlock.

“In 2016 my mom passed away from cancer,” said Strickland. “She had kidney cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2005. Over the years she fought very hard but it would come back.

“In 2006 it went to her brain so she had to go to Johns Hopkins (Hospital in Baltimore) for surgery then. But from 2005 to 2016 this is where she came. She got her chemo treatments here. She made so many friends. She is the type of person who never met a stranger.”

In the past three years since her passing, Strickland kept her legacy alive by donating comfort bags from Thirty One Gifts to the patients.

“They have things in them that comfort them and bring a smile to my face,” said Strickland. “Items like lotion, tissues, socks, ChapSticks, hand sanitizer, gum, a notebook, reusable water bottle … items like that. It will help her legacy go on. I know how much the cancer center meant to my mother. She loved everybody here.”

Strickland donated 40 comfort bags the first year she began the tradition in 2017.

“We had 65 bags last year and this year 102 bags,” she said. “Every year it represents another person we get to bless.”

While at the Schwab Cancer Center on Monday, Strickland visited with a cancer patient, Mildred Moreland of Elk Garden, West Virginia.

Moreland was delighted to receive the gifts.

“I think this is wonderful,” said Moreland. “That is so thoughtful.” The women exchanged stories of their experiences. …

“I spent a good part of last summer in and out of the hospital,” said Moreland. “But, I decided I wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself. I couldn’t ask for better treatment than I get here. The staff and the nurses really are wonderful. I’m surprised the way they learn to know you. They seem to know more about you than I do myself. Dr. (Qamar) Zaman has been a blessing. He is a very caring man.”

Lisa Hout, senior development officer for the Western Maryland Health System Foundation, was present for the visit.

“We are so grateful for the gracious outpouring we get from people like Jami (Strickland),” said Hout. “There are countless people in the community, individuals and businesses, that think of the health system and patient needs. Many times they have a personal experience with us through family members and the foundation is the gatekeeper for all incoming donations … in-kind and monetary gifts.

“We have a very wide range of restricted accounts that represent all different programs and departments throughout the health system. We use them exactly the way the donor has intended. They have given a gift knowing that someone in need is the recipient of their kindness. We have a very kind and giving community.”

Strickland said she is blessed in return.

“That makes the connection for me to see the smile on their face,” she said. “It warms the heart. It means so much.”


Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News, http://www.times-news.com/timesnew.html

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