Survivors build on their experiences curating an unexpected gift set for cancer patients

Hello, time traveler!
This article has been published 12/18/2020 (296 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.



When wasting disease knocked on their doors all those years ago, neither Kristina Hunter nor Tara Torchia knew what to expect.

Cancer is excruciating, agonizing and numbing – almost all at once, Winnipeg women told the Free press. And no one seems to understand what it feels like.

“Yet sometimes the strangest and most unexpected thing will happen,” Torchia said Thursday. “Either way your whole life will be changed. But all you’ll want to do is make sure that others in the same boat can be helped to feel like that in some way. of another, it is possible. ”

Hunter and Torchia know what it’s like to wait at your doorstep, hoping for good news when a life-changing disease seems to only bring on rainy days. “We also know that there isn’t much that soup, flowers, and fruit can do when you’re fighting with your life,” Hunter said.

That’s why Winnipeggers hope their small business can bring something unexpected to your home, designed entirely to help relieve symptoms and manage emotions associated with an illness like cancer.

The Unexpected Gift Box is a Manitoba company that ships select packages across North America from a quaint brick and mortar store called The Unexpected Gift on Osborne Street.

At an affordable price, a gift box full of handpicked items from local suppliers will arrive at a colleague, family member or friend as a one-time package or as a recurring monthly gift on a subscription, without any contact required during delivery.

The boxes contain handy items, like a specialized skin cream for radiation burns or hot and cold therapy bags to accompany a soft hat warming a shaved head. And it will also include such items as cards, journals, and comfy slippers to help the recipient feel emotionally supported.

“Everything in there will have a reason, designed especially with someone in mind,” Torchia said. “And it will all come from two girls who have been through this ordeal themselves.”


It all started when Torchia was diagnosed with breast cancer about eight years ago.

At 42, she began an uphill battle with a disease that, according to recent statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society, will develop over one in eight women in the country during her lifetime.

“Nothing could have prepared me for this,” she said. “It’s not like it’s something someone close to me or my family had. And I was the only one on my radar who had it.”

She quit her full-time job, requested chemotherapy, and eventually underwent reconstructive surgery.

With every strand of hair falling off her head from her treatments, Torchia was getting more tired and exhausted than the day before.

“I loved how people tried to help me, all these flower arrangements and food and everything they tried,” she said. “But no one – not a single person at all – understood what I was going through and what I really needed.”

That was until she met her new friend Hunter through a support group, who was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Suddenly,” Torchia said, “a stranger seemed to have me more than anyone else I had known in my life.”

For Hunter, then an environment professor at the University of Manitoba, it was much the same.

“It was like meeting someone you could say anything to, without needing to explain too much to you because they really understood you,” she said.

“And really,” Hunter added, “that’s the kind of thing we’re trying to emulate with this box – that when you get one, you’ll know there’s someone out there who knows what you’re going through. and can understand for you. ”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, business partners say isolating a disease like cancer can seem all the more difficult.

“You are already quarantined from the rest of the world, but now you can’t even see people like your family who would have come to see you otherwise,” Torchia said.

Hunter says that’s why their gift sets are “the perfect hug” to give to someone battling an illness when you can’t see them, especially this holiday season. And it’s a gift the double cancer survivor knows she would have liked to receive on her own.

“But more than a gift,” she said, “it’s a meaningful way to let them know that they are special to you during this completely painful time, while also understanding their needs when no one else. doesn’t seem to do it.

“You will know that this is a safe and lasting way to get something that is perfect for your loved one.”

Twitter: @temurdur

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