Sisters create care packages for cancer patients


Sisters, Julia and Tess with filled care packages for cancer patients going through treatment at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson NJ.

by Olivia Traphagen, Twitter Manager

With inspiration from their mother, two sister students put together a few comfort items to make cancer patient’s treatments a little easier.

The Rooney sisters, Julia Rooney, senior, and Tess Rooney, sophomore, are making care packages for cancer patients. They are calling the project “Be Pretty Strong.”

“My sister, mom and I were in contact with a social worker from Saint Joseph’s hospital in Paterson who works with cancer patients. We wanted to know if there was anything we could do to make their treatments at least a little easier,” Julia Rooney said.

Through Julia’s previous commitment to the Special Olympics, she has had fulfilling and rewarding experiences participating in service to others.

Tess also wanted to do good for those suffering from breast cancer.

“We are doing it because it is Breast Cancer awareness month and we wanted to help out patients and spread awareness for their cause,” Tess Rooney said.

The girls’ mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor, credits the support of her family for getting her through difficult times.

She reminds the girls that not all women who go through the same experience are as fortunate as she was.

The Rooneys are working with social worker Lorena Alvarez at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Her role in the hospital is as a “Patient Navigator.” Lorena Alvarez and other employees provide programs and services to people from when they are diagnosed with the disease to the end of treatment, even to the end of a life. The psychosocial part of her job is to identify the needs that patients may have and to aid in patient’s understanding of how the treatments will physically effect them.

“The Rooney girls are collecting every day care products for the patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. During treatment, either chemotherapy or radiation, the patients experience hair loss, dry skin and discolored nails,” Alvarez said.  “Every day products are a great thing for them since they keep their skin integrity and it gives them a sense of well-being.”

Several patients at the hospital are faced with personal struggles in addition to having cancer. The Rooneys hope that the care packages will be a significant way to comfort them in their time of need.

“We are collecting donations of hats, scarves,travel sized lotions, perfumes and any other care items for the breast cancer patients at St Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson,” Tess Rooney said.

The care packages will go to people with all forms of cancer because they share similar side effects. The patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital are not aware of the girls’ care packages just yet– they will be a nice surprise during the holiday season.

Sisters Julia Rooney, Senior and Tess Rooney, Sophomore, receive citizen of the month awards for the month of October.
Sisters Julia Rooney, Senior and Tess Rooney, Sophomore, receive citizen of the month awards for the month of October.