Helping to rock out stress

Group donates care packages to cancer patients

HOWLAND — Nonprofit Rock4Reason is thinking of local cancer patients during the pandemic and decided to support them by donating 50 stress-relief bags to the Hope Center for Cancer Care.

“People are already stressed out, and for those folks who are going through treatment, it is probably even more stressful for them,” Rock4Reason co-founder Frank Lindsay said.

The Rock4Reason team delivered stress-relief bags with candles, tea, socks, stress balls and lotion, among other items, to the Hope Center in Howland. Half of the bags, valued around $75 each, will go from Howland to the Hope Center’s Boardman location, according to Lindsay.

“This puts a smile on their faces,” Denise Malvasi, nurse manager at Hope Center, said.

Malvasi said while patients have to be careful to not get sick under normal circumstances, COVID-19 has many cancer patients more worried.

“They’ll say, ‘I haven’t done anything, nor have I seen anyone because I don’t want to get sick and miss my treatment,'” Malvasi said. “It’s kept them away from their support system because everyone needs to be away. Sometimes they feel a little lonely and more stressed.”

Malvasi said for some, their only social interaction is during chemo treatments. Nurses at Hope Center are trying to make the treatments as enjoyable as they can with cups of coffee and friendly conversations.

Crystal Shells, senior oncology liaison with the Hope Center, said the donation of stress bags is “timely,” when cancer patients have been somewhat forgotten amid the health crisis.

“Really with everything happening with the COVID, and these people are coming in — let’s be honest — fighting for their lives, using a stress relief bag could be ideal for them,” Shells said. “This couldn’t have come at a better time for our patients.”

Rock4Reason started eight years ago when Lindsay — Kent State University Trumbull’s information and technology manager — and his wife, Heather, teamed up with their friends Matt and Jennifer Durno first as a part of the Kent Trumbull Relay For Life team and then as an independent campaign to raise money for the American Cancer Society and Hospice of the Valley. In 2016, the group officially became a nonprofit. On Rock4Reason’s “small but mighty” team of nine people, no one is paid.

Jennifer Durno stressed the importance of helping local people.

“Our biggest goal is to open up resources for local people,” Durno said.

She said Rock4Reason focuses on helping local organizations, partnering with local businesses, and working with local volunteers to help people in the Valley.

“All the funds we raise goes right back into the Valley,” Lindsay said.

Most of Hope Center’s patients are local, while a few come from Ravenna or Hiram. Rock4Reason has partnered with the center before, previously donating theraputic bags focused on helping patients with the specific needs that arise from treatment. Rock4Reason also has hosted a “Mums and Mimosas” banquent event for cancer patients for the past two years, but the event — like Rock4Reason’s other in-person events for patients — is cancelled this year because of health concerns.

The organization is named for the music incorporated into all of its events — whether for fundraising or for therapeutic purposes.

Lindsay said most of Rock4Reason’s usual fundraising events won’t be possible this year because of the health emergency, but the group still wanted to do something for cancer patients during the pandemic.

“Even if we can give one day of hope, one day of not thinking about treatment right now — That is a plus,” Lindsay said.


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