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Encouragement Bags


Colleagues collaborating in the office.

First American colleagues rally behind radiation treatment encouragement bags in support of colleague and her mother. 

In September 2020, First American colleague, Sara Fay, took her mom, Sandy, for a craniotomy to have a brain tumor removed. They learned the diagnosis was a glioblastoma, which is a Grade 4, incurable type of brain cancer. The treatment plan included six weeks of radiation in conjunction with a year of chemotherapy. On Sandy’s last day of radiation treatment, the two agreed that there should be more encouragement for patients going through the treatment, which can often feel overwhelming and lonely. Together they decided to assemble encouragement bags with messages and supplies for patients, and named the initiative “Secret Sandy,” as patients would receive the bags from anonymous supporters. Since January 2021, Sara and Sandy have donated over 100 encouragement bags to radiation patients at St. Elizabeth’s Cancer Center, in Edgewood, KY, where Sandy received treatment. 
Working at First American, Sara knew the outpouring support her colleagues provide in the Rochester community and decided to bring the initiative to her team. In February 2022, over 50 First American colleagues donated more than 2,000 comfort items, which would be donated to cancer patients starting radiation treatment. With these items, the First American team assembled over 150 encouragement bags and donated an additional $1,000, which will fund the next round of comfort items for bags. The encouragement bags will be donated to Rochester Regional Health’s Lipson Cancer Institute, Linden Oaks location, on March 16th.
The bags include items such as books, magazines, socks, slippers, cough drops, hand warmers, tea, hand lotion and encouraging artwork and messages from First American families. 
News Coverage on 13WHAM TV: First American families assemble goodie bags for cancer patients | WHAM (