Chemo care “hugabox” available through
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center collection

Hugabox is in the business of spreading kindness and joy while raising money for sarcoma, a type of cancer that mostly affects young people. And now Washington state-based Hugabox has created a collection of gift boxes with UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in mind. For every gift box ordered through the cancer center collection, $10 will go toward the Kelsey Hastings Golitz Sarcoma Research Fund at UC Davis.

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.

“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 lives on through what we’re doing.”