Josie Gurreri spent five years at Mount Sinai Hospital in her fight against colon cancer. The experience left an indelible mark on her family.
“During those years, Mount Sinai became like a second home to our family,” says Adriana Gurreri, Josie’s younger sister.
“Most of those days were spent in the Cancer Centre at Mount Sinai,” she remembers. “The nurses and doctors provided Josie with great care. They made treatment days a lot less dreadful for not only my sister, but my entire family.”
Sadly, at just 21 years old, Josie died of her disease. After her passing, the Gurreri family established the Josie Gurreri Memorial Fund to carry out Josie’s dream of providing the nurses on 14N, the Surgical Oncology / Inflammatory Bowel Disease floor, with a new Nurses Lounge and sweaters for their uniform.
So when the pandemic began, it was only natural that Adriana wanted to do something extra to help the patients, visitors and staff at Mount Sinai’s Christopher Sharp Cancer Centre.
“Sinai Health provides exceptional care,” says Adriana. “From being in the hospital with my sister from when I was only 12 years old, I saw how hard each nurse, doctor, custodian, porter, and administrator worked to ensure each patient is well taken care of.”
So, in Josie’s memory, Adriana raised funds to create Josie’s Kits of Kindness for Mount Sinai’s chemotherapy patients. Her mission was “to remind them that although they may feel isolated, they are far from alone.
“We wanted to find a way to spread kindness and joy, but from a safe distance.”
The hand-made kits are now being delivered to patients receiving chemotherapy treatment at the Christopher Sharp Cancer Centre.
“I can only imagine how hard the nurses, doctors and staff are working to ensure that each patient is well taken care of,” says Adriana. “I wanted to spread kindness during a time when visitors and volunteers are so restricted and people fighting against cancer may feel isolated.”
Adriana remembered the things her parents would have available for Josie’s chemotherapy treatments, and stocked the kits with lip balm, hard candies, fuzzy socks, a sleeping mask, and a word puzzle book (complete with pencil).
“The all-natural lip balm to help soothe dry and chapped lips that occur from the treatment, hard candies for dry mouth that sometimes happens to patients during their chemo treatment, fuzzy socks for warm feet during long treatments, a sleeping eye mask for a quick nap, and a pencil and word puzzle to help pass time.”
Adriana hopes the kits will bring smiles to patients as they sit through their treatments.
“Josie would have wanted to help in any way that she could to keep spreading kindness during these often-isolated times. My family hopes to continue to live out Josie’s legacy and support Sinai Health in the same way they supported her.”
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