The Mary Anne Long Patient and Family Resource Center at the North Carolina Basnight Cancer Hospital hosted its annual Caregiver Thanksgiving Luncheon for patients and families Nov. 16.
The event, which has been modified since COVID-19, was a chance for patients and families to stop by, enjoy a boxed Thanksgiving lunch and take a short break from the challenges cancer can place on patients and their caregivers.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come together as a cancer care community and really love on our caregivers,” Linnea Van Pelt, BSN, RN, CMSRN, OCN, LMBT, patient services manager, UNC Oncology Services said.
In all, 390 boxed lunches were provided to patients and their families.
The Jordan High School jazz band played some holiday favorites in the cancer hospital lobby as people received their boxed lunch. UNC Lineberger member Paul Armistead, MD, PhD, stopped by to enjoy the music, but also to see his son, Edmund, the saxophonist in the jazz band.
The PFRC also collected donations from faculty and staff to create “baskets of hope” for patients and their family facing food insecurity this holiday season. The initial goal was to create four baskets that included a full Thanksgiving meal, but the generosity of faculty and staff made it possible to provide eight baskets.
The Thanksgiving luncheon also was an opportunity for patients to stop by the PFRC and select donated winter outerwear, including hats, scarves and coats.
As patients and their caregivers walked into the conference to choose a box lunch, it was clear many were touched by the gesture. “You’re not just a patient, you’re not just a number. This was totally unexpected, but it was very welcoming,” said Tonja Bizzell, whose husband was currently receiving treatment for cancer.