Cancer survivor wraps patients in warmth

October 20, 2009 3:16:52 PM PDT
Cancer patients cope with their situation in a million ways. One Burlington County breast cancer survivor is really turning "lemons into lemonade."

These days, the sewing machine hums at Brenda Jones' house in Southampton, New Jersey and her kitchen is filled with friends.

But barely a year ago:

"I was a full-fledged angry cancer patient," she says.

And as Brenda was about to begin radiation treatment for breast cancer, the thought of putting on a generic hospital gown put her over the edge.

"I am not going to wear this for the next 7 weeks. They are hideous, disgusting. They make me feel like a victim," she thought.

And she says they don't keep a patient warm. She recalled sitting in the waiting area, with 2 gowns, and a coat on.

Brenda came up with an idea for a warmer, more attractive robe.

But she didn't know how to sew.

A friend gave her some quick lessons, she bought a used sewing machine, and created the first HugWrap.

As she holds one out, she explains, "It's a wrap-around, kimono style, and it fits up to a 1 to 2X."

"It feels like a nice warm hug."

Soon, fellow patient Millie Kralle asked for one to wear during her treatment for lung cancer.

And Susan Trout, who was undergoing ovarian cancer treatment, asked for one too - in teal, the color for her cancer.

Now, Brenda has made more than 150 HugWraps, donating them to patients with all types of cancer.

She uses donations to buy flannel fabric, matching the theme to the patient.

"The first thing I ask them, is what's your favorite color?" Brenda said.

It takes about 3 and a half yards for the average wrap, but a little more if she is making a longer one or one for a man.

Each garment gets a special label, donated by Golden Sales, a label-maker in Newtown Square, Delaware County.

Millie says the butterfly-covered HugWrap made her feel special and she uses it nearly every day.

"After dinner, I'll sit down to read a book, or watch TV, and I'll put it on," she told us.

Brenda says the more she sews, the better she feels.

"If I hadn't been so mad, this never would have happened. Put on a HugWrap, put your head up, get those treatments, and get better," she notes.

Brenda now makes the wraps and donates them through her non-profit company, but her ultimate goal is to find a company to mass produce them and sell them at an affordable price, so every patient who wants one can buy one.

She welcomes donations of gift cards from WalMart and Joann, to buy fabric.

If you know someone who needs a Hugwrap, e-mail Brenda at hugwraps@verizon.net

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