Food Baskets Brighten Thanksgiving for Cancer Patients’ Families
Cancer is a disease that can sometimes leave the cupboard bare. As oncology social workers, Charisse Jones and Jo’Von Clayton see it all the time – patients at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia struggling with medical co-pays and deductibles, transportation to and from treatment, household expenses, prescription costs, and most staggering, jobs or businesses lost.
This year, Jones and Clayton wanted to make sure their patients would at least have Thanksgiving dinner.
“We are on the front lines and know our patients have limited resources,” they say. “It’s such an important time for families to share a meal together.” Clayton and Jones reached out to oncology nurse manager Mia Perry for assistance.
As it turns out, Perry is no stranger to the needs of cancer patients – and not just because she’s an oncology nurse. Her husband, Todd, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016; the shattering diagnosis upended their lives and sometimes left them needing help. “We know what it’s like,” Perry says.
One of the people who supported them during their ordeal was Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green. “Councilman Green has been very inspirational in helping Todd and myself,” Perry says. “We went through a situation during Todd’s cancer journey where we were out of insurance at one point. Councilman Green loves our community and is willing to do whatever he can to help in any area.”
Perry said her husband encouraged her to contact Green on behalf of the patients. And Green came through with turkeys for the 16 patients in need.
“As we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the blessings of this year, I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to provide Thanksgiving meals to people receiving medical treatment at Einstein, and to the dedicated professionals who serve them,” Green says. “In the spirit of humble gratitude and cooperation, I would like to wish the entire Einstein family a happy Thanksgiving holiday.”
Social workers Clayton and Jones were also thrilled when Einstein’s Corporate Marketing and Communications Department pitched in to add side dishes and desserts to make a full meal for their patients.
The staff filled dozens of grocery bags with Thanksgiving dinner trimmings: cans of greens, beans, cranberry sauce and gravy; boxes of stuffing and mashed potatoes; dinner rolls and dessert for the patients and their families. Marketing and Communications is one of the many Einstein departments that provide gifts and food for patients over the holidays.
“We were moved by the compassion and generosity of our colleagues and wanted to do our share to ensure that our patients and their families have a nice Thanksgiving,” says Chief Marketing Officer Joan Gubernick.
Doretha Russell, for one, is grateful for everything. Russell was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and has been unable to maintain her moving and hauling business. She thought she’d have to rely on an invitation to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Instead, she’ll have a full meal for her husband, their son and daughter and their spouses, and her2-year-old grandson.
“I would usually go to someone else’s house,” she says. “But this year, I’m going to have it at my house. And I’m very thankful.”
Photo: Einstein oncology staff (left to right) Jo’Von Clayton, social worker; Mia Perry, nurse manager; and Charisse Jones, social worker, with the food donations for cancer patients.