Peace Love Tote Founder Kim Carew Shares Her Story
My name is Kim Carew, and I am a breast cancer survivor. When I was diagnosed in 2015, I was scared, and I didn’t know what to expect. My doctors were amazing and put me on the treatment plan that saved my life. My family was strong and loving and supportive. My friends were there for me every step of the way. But even with all that support, on my first day of chemo, I still felt unprepared and alone.
Only someone who has been through chemotherapy can understand what it feels like to sit in that chair, week after week, hour after hour. Only someone who’s been there can empathize with the fear and uncertainty of that first treatment. I started Peace Love Tote as a way to help alleviate some of that anxiety and trepidation by arming breast cancer chemotherapy patients with the practical items I wish I had on that first day of chemo.
My goal, through the founding of Peace Love Tote is to bring comfort and hope to women undergoing chemotherapy. One way is through the totes themselves, but another way is through the sharing of my story, and the encouragement that comes from someone on the other side of treatment – someone who has been there.
The diagnosis came on March 23, 2015—breast cancer. As I attended each of my many doctor’s appointments, the news got worse and worse. Triple negative. My mind was in a constant fog of disbelief. By the time I was scheduled for my first chemotherapy treatment, I was completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared. Although I wanted so badly to move forward and get through the treatment process, the dread of chemotherapy and all the stories I had heard swirled in my mind.
My First Chemo Treatment
With my Mediport intact, I set out for my first of eight treatments. At the time, I wished I had a person to call or sit with who could tell me EXACTLY what I was in for, emotionally as well as physically. I wanted to be prepared for my first day in “the chair.” No more surprises, please. But surprises there were. The first being that the chemotherapy room is cold. Really cold. I hadn’t prepared for four hours of just sitting in a freezing cold room. I was wearing sandals and the blanket they gave me was thin and just not warm enough. Fortunately, my husband was with me, and he was able to get me a thicker blanket, but it made me think of all the women receiving treatment who did not have the support network I did – who would bring them a blanket?
I also didn’t prepare for spending four hours with nothing to do but watch the drip and think about all the nausea the Internet had promised to me. I should have brought more than one book. I should have brought a journal. I should have brought a phone charger.
From the very beginning of my journey, I recognized that there was a critical support element missing from that first chemo treatment. When I was finally declared cancer-free one year later, I decided I would make sure that whenever possible, I would help women go to their first treatment equipped with the items necessary to make for a comfortable and productive day.
After handing out chemotherapy totes to a few acquaintances and “new friends,” I decided to form Peace Love Tote, because I want to reach out to as many women as possible in their journey through breast cancer. These totes are given to women when they begin chemotherapy and are personally delivered by myself or a person who has been through the breast cancer treatment process. Who better than us, knows what it feels like to be on the journey back to health? Having the tote delivered by a person who has “been there” and is now on the other side of treatment is empowering for both the patient and the survivor!
Do you know a woman who is about to to begin breast cancer chemotherapy? Contact us today. We currently deliver to select treatment centers in California. To find out more, visit our Request a Tote Page:
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