Non-profit provides “hug in a bag” to recently diagnosed cancer patients

The ministry has handed out thousands of bags over the years to patients they’ve never even met.
chemo bags for cancer patients
chemo bags for cancer patients(Adria Goins)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 9:10 AM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It’s called a “hug in a bag” but for Mary Pickens of Mary Pickens Ministry her simple idea was more of a calling.

Pickens started making chemotherapy bags to hand out to recently diagnosed cancer patients seven years ago. More than two dozen volunteers make up the ministry, many of which donate their own money and items. These women pack and hand out purple bags of love at Oschner LSU Shreveport Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, filled with blankets, socks, hats, lotions, devotionals, and journals.

“We come and we do what we do because we know that we’re affecting people that are hurting and if we can make their day better than that’s all we want,” said Pickens.

Pickens said she decided to start the ministry after praying about her calling.

“I said God, what do you want me to do?” said Pickens “I just felt on my heart about chemo bags. I didn’t know anything about them because personally, I had not dealt with cancer or anyone who had cancer at that time.”

The ministry has handed out thousands of bags over the years to patients they’ve never even met. But their message remained the same which is these patients are not alone.

“It’s really just a labor of love from Mary Pickens Ministry that they really feel it with this visit when they come in for their chemo,” said Carol Crooms, chemo educator at Feist-Weiller.

Tomeka White was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She remembered the moment she was told those dreaded words.

White said getting the chemo bag moments after her diagnosis helped her more than she realized. She was able to use the hat when her hair fell out, the socks when she was cold inside the treatment center, and the mints when her mouth started to feel dry from the chemo.

“Your day can go from — your high to your very low — but that bag, it had things in there for everything that you’re going to experience.”

Pickens said her calling started before she had a family member impacted by cancer and didn’t even know the first thing to add to the bags. But it didn’t matter, it was something she was supposed to do.

“I’m called to be here for the hurting. I’m called to extend a helping hand. And that’s where I get my joy. When I lay down at night and I know I’ve done what I’m supposed to do then it’s ok.”

If you’re interested in helping Mary Pickens Ministry or learning more about the organization, click here.

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