Unique way to support cancer research during Sarcoma Awareness Month
Hugabox is in the business of spreading kindness and joy while raising money for sarcoma, a type of cancer that mostly affects young people. The Washington state-based hugabox recently created a collection of gift boxes with UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in mind.
The fund was started by Rebecca Hastings and Michael Golitz in memory of their daughter Kelsey Hastings Golitz, who was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2010 and died of the disease four years later.
Golitz had just graduated from college and was starting a career in Boston when she began feeling ill.
“She thought she had the flu and had been fighting pelvic pain she assumed was a sports injury,” Hastings said. “We just thought this was going to go away. Six months went by. One day, she told me on the phone, ‘Mom, I’m in excruciating pain.’”
A sports rehabilitation doctor suspected it was not an injury. He referred Golitz to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The family was stunned when Golitz was diagnosed there with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that attacks soft tissue and bone and mostly hits young people.
“Our daughter seemed perfectly healthy. She was a strong athlete,” Hastings said. “We couldn’t make sense of it.”
Hugabox began when Kelsey’s cancer was closing in
In early 2014, Kelsey’s doctor called her parents to say they could not stop the cancer. Kelsey loved her job and enjoyed living in Boston, but she was getting weaker.
“I’ll never forget the call,” Rebecca Hastings said. “The doctor asked, ‘Where do you want her to be for her last breath?’”
“I knew, after the call from her doctor, that Kelsey would be coming back home, but she was 26 years old and didn’t want to. Because she had been working in e-commerce, I began a dialogue about starting a care package business. I thought it would give us something to do when she made the difficult decision to move back home. We never got the chance. She died too soon,” Hastings said.
“When you lose a child to cancer, you want people to remember them and so we continued with the care package business, which is now called ‘hugabox’ to honor our daughter and help the next generation,” Hastings said.
Giving to the next generation of sarcoma patients
“I looked into all 52 sarcoma centers in the U.S.,” Hastings said. “UC Davis became one of the six I selected to help fund because of the level of sarcoma research underway and because the staff were very professional and welcoming.”
Since launching in 2015, hugabox’s Sarcoma Charity Research fund has donated more than $100,000 to the six cancer centers, including $15,000 to UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, with a pledge to donate a total of $35,000 with the new cancer center collection.
Hugabox ships care packages to college students, cancer patients or anyone needing a holiday hug-in-a-box, with 90% of the proceeds going to sarcoma cancer research. With college starting soon for many recent high school graduates, you can send a hugabox with dorm room décor. Cancer care hugaboxes contain “chemo kits” to help patient get through treatment including aromatherapy, healthy snacks, and neck pillows.
“We all grieve in our own way,” Hastings added. “Doing this has helped me process Kelsey’s cancer. I know I’m still grieving and will for a long time, but it feels like Kelsey’s optimism and spirit live on through what we’re doing.”
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.