NYer of the Week: Anne Marie Paolucci Offers Creature Comforts to Chemo Patients
These kits aren't packed with random products. Each one is filled with knowledge.
From nausea to fatigue, Anne Marie Paolucci knows how difficult chemotherapy can be.
She went through it—twice.
"My mom came in one day and she was talking to me like this, and I looked at her and said, 'Why are you talking to me like that?' and she burst into tears and she said, 'That’s the first time that you acknowledged that I’m talking to you like that in days,' and so, it was a rough ride," says Anne Marie Paolucci, NY1's New Yorker of the Week.
A rough ride her mother, and grandmother, experienced as well.
Knowing what helps and what doesn't, Anne Marie wanted to make treatment easier for others.
"A family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so I made her what I called a chemo starter kit and she loved it and her son said, 'That’s great.
You should do something with that,'" Paolucci says.
So, that's what Anne Marie did.
In 2004, she founded Chemo Comfort, a non-profit that provides patients with care packages to manage side effects.
"My life was in this box and to me it was a source of comfort. Chemo Comfort was my comfort—and it still is," says Chemo Comfort recipient Mona Kornberg.
Anne Marie and her volunteers distribute hundreds of packages a year to eight organizations in the New York City area.
Beyond products, the kits provide encouragement.
"I think it helps our clients feel less alone. It also empowers them to take care of themselves in a really difficult time, where they're often having to ask for help from other people," says Allison Nilsen, Coordinator of Women's Cancers Program, CancerCare
"We’re talking about cancer. We’re talking about chemotherapy. These are huge things, huge things to cope with. I'm talking about a mouthwash and peppermint tea, but those little things make a big difference to somebody," Paolucci says.
So, for making a rough ride a little easier, Anne Marie Paolucci is our New Yorker of the Week.