Renee Kurpgeweit (right) began the project after getting some insight from oncology nurse Ruth Peters (left) on what items would be most helpful and appropriate for those in treatment.

Paying it forward to
 PMC's Oncology patients

These days most know a family member or loved one who has battled or is still fighting cancer.

Unfortunately, with cancer diagnoses on the rise, more and more people are forced to undergo treatments that often leave them feeling ill and exhausted just to get the disease under control. 

The hours spent in treatment are often quiet ones and there is only so much daytime television a person can watch while hooked up to a cancer-fighting cocktail of medications. 

Watching her best friend battle and eventually succumb to brain and lung cancer just months ago put into perspective for Renee Kurpgeweit just how much the little things matter to cancer patients.

Drawing from a friend's project in the Norfolk area, Kurpgeweit decided the way she could show cancer patients that she and many others were thinking of them was implementing a new program at Providence Medical Center.

"A friend of mine, Bonnie Schultz, is a Thirty One bags consultant and she does Bernadine Blessing Bags," Kurpgeweit said. "Her mother, Bernadine, had cancer and passed away and she felt that she wanted to give back to the hospital that her mother utilized while going through treatments."

Schultz garnered donations for items to place into 31 Bags to be distributed to cancer patients at Faith Regional in Norfolk.

The idea stuck with Kurpgeweit, so she approached PMC's Oncology Nurse Ruth Peters to see if Providence did such a thing for their patients. 

Upon finding out that PMC once had a similar program but hadn't had it in a number of years, Kurpgeweit went to PMC CEO Jim Frank with her idea. 

"I told him what my goal was and he was very supportive, so much so that Providence actually donated a hundred bags to this cause."

With the help of her friend, Kurpgeweit was able to find Thirty One consultant Melissa Lourdeman (SP) to work through for the bags.

After securing the first set of bags, Kurpgeweit went back to Peters looking for ideas on items to include inside the bag.

"I said, 'Ok I took on this project … help!' So Ruth, thankfully, helped me with this. She put together a wish list of what she thought the patients would appreciate."

Kurpgeweit knew she would need help from the community to fill the bags, even though none of the items included are expensive ones, it all adds up quickly.

She sent out letters to area businesses and individuals explaining the project to the community. She included the wish list items in her letter and was pleasantly surprised at how receptive many businesses in town were.

"It's been amazing for a project that is new to the community how many donations we've received," Kurpgeweit said. "I'm overwhelmed with all the people who have given. I sent out letters and then all of sudden I was getting phone calls and emails and people were bringing stuff up to the hospital."

Each Comfort Care Bag comes with a tag including all the donors that made the bag possible. The bags all include a lap blanket, fuzzy sock-slippers, a puzzle book and many other items.

"We put items in here that we feel will be meaningful to the patients either while they are receiving treatments or when they go home."

The project officially kicked off with the first set of bags being donated to the PMC Oncology Department last week.

"This is our pay-it-forward, just letting patients who come to Providence know that even though we may not know who they are that this community does support them."


Items Renee is currently taking donations for to pack in the bags includes:

Lap blankets

Unisex booties

Chewing Gum

Refillable Water Bottles

Writing Journals

Adult Coloring Books

Inspirational books to read

Mechanical Pencils

Markers/Colored Pencils

Hard Candy (lemon dops, peppermints, life savers)

Traveling size Kleenexes

Thirty One Bags for Comfort Care Items

Gift Certificates for meals


Please contact Renee Kurpgeweit at 402-369-2706 or with any questions. Donations may be dropped off at
Absolute Salon during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or contact Renee. 

The Wayne Herald

Mailing Address:
114 Main Street
Wayne, NE 68787
Phone: 402-375-2600

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