Gift bags brighten the days of cancer patients

By AJ Meakins
ajmeakins@bransontrilakesnews.com

Local resident, Rose Backlin, gives back to area cancer patients in honor of her father. Backlin began the ‘Don’t Give Up Gear’ program in the fall of 2020 and every three months gives out 30 bags with community-donated items to help put a
smile on the face of cancer patients at Branson Cancer Center. “These bags started in small makeup bags and have grown,” Backlin told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “The items always vary, but a few examples would be Fuzzy/Warm socks, Hats, Scarves, Snack Items, homemade rice heating pad, word search books, pens, Germ-x, lotion, stress balls, peppermints, small
sewing kits, first aid kits, and so many more. This program is to bring a smile to their face.” Backlin said her dad, the late Danny Pride, is her inspiration to give back. “He had cancer for many years and passed June 2020 due to cancer. Talking to his nurses at the Branson Cancer Center, they told me how he always made the other patients smile or would reach out to the
new patients when they were nervous to help ease their nerves or even try to encourage them,” Backlin said.

“They said he always had the best attitude no matter how his day was going. My Dad was always cracking a joke with people
around him, especially people he saw regularly or he was just being ‘ornery so these stories just made sense. After (he) passed I wanted to continue bringing smiles to those patients that are going through a rough time and could use that
small gesture to help them make it another day. My dad always thought the reason he could keep going on for so long with chemo was because of his attitude. Now I can help adjust someone else’s attitude.”

Cancer Center of Branson Oncology Patient Navigator Angelia Huels said she remembered Pride and the way he would be there for other patients. “(Rose) and (her) group that are thinking of these patients and families are a blessing and encouragement,” Huels said. “Just like (her) dad, who would come by and visit with people and encourage each of them in
some way.”

On March 16, Cox Medical Center Branson posted this on their Facebook page about Backlin’s program:
A loving legacy. An act of kindness. Our friend Rose started a tradition awhile back while her father was undergoing cancer
treatments. Every few months, she’d drop off goodie bags for our cancer patients crammed full of fun stuff like snacks, fuzzy socks and games. They bring the BIGGEST smiles. She lost her dad Danny but continues the tradition as a way to honor him. We hate cancer with our whole heart! As much as we also miss Danny, we love seeing Rose walk through our doors and the smiles she brings with her bags. Thank you for the joy! There are many things about the program Backlin says makes her feel
she is doing the right thing and gives her the joy of knowing what she does is rewarding. “The most rewarding part of this program is honoring my Dad first and watching his impact on others continue even though he is gone,” Backlin said. “Secondly, it’s simply knowing I made someone smile, cheered them up, or gave them encouragement to keep fighting.” Backlin’s gift bags
have been a beacon of kindness when times are dark for many patients and their families.

She recently had a Facebook message from someone whose mother was a patient at the Cancer Center of Branson. “Rose Backlin, I just want to thank you for doing this. One of the last conversations me and my mom had last year before she died was how a ‘sweet lady brought stuff in for everyone.’ You literally made her day with that, and it was hard for her to have good days being back on treatment,” the Facebook message read. Backlin said she has never kept count of how many bags she has given out but thinks it is between 150 to 180 so far. The community can help her with this mission by gifting items for the bags. “To help the program I am always looking for items to put in the bags. I request that there be 30 of each item so all the bags are the same and nothing perishable. Any item that would bring a smile or some encouragement would be appreciated,” Backlin said. “Eventually, I would love to be able to place restaurant and gas gift cards into the bags.” The bags are a way to pass along kindness to patients who are going through so much, Backlin said. “I would like everyone to know how thankful I am to have this support from the community. I started out with no intention besides passing on some kindness and smiles in my Dad’s honor,” Backlin said. “I can’t develop the words to describe how I feel for all this support or the feelings I get when I leave from dropping the bags off. It is indescribable!”

Backlin recently created a Facebook page called ‘Don’t Give Up Gear’.“The Facebook page is where I will be updating what the cancer patients are needing or wanting and when the collection dates will be.” For more information contact Rose through the Facebook page.

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