Zippers Make Chemo Easier for Kids

Outpouring of donations & volunteers result from social media post

By Dana Trumbull

“Looking for people to help with an amazing project!” So starts Bren Wilkins Rauch’s post within the Gold Canyon Community Facebook group. “A dear client of mine has a nephew who goes through chemo treatments weekly. She has decided that all of these kids [in the cancer unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital] need a ‘chemo shirt;’ a shirt that has a zipper sewn into it for easier access to their port.”

Katie Vache (Apache Junction) is Rauch’s “dear client” who started the chemo shirt project, inspired by her nephew, Seth. Seth was diagnosed last year with an inoperable brain tumor while getting a sports physical. He was nine-years-old.

Vache relates, “When Seth was first diagnosed, the hospital staff advised us that they would be placing a port on the right side of his chest. This port allows them to draw blood and to administer his chemo. The wonderful staff at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) gave Seth a shirt that had a zipper in it to make it easy to access his port without having to take his shirt off.

“Once we received this shirt, a friend of mine, Shelle Hamilton, said she could make these for Seth. So, long story short, she made him t-shirts with zippers out of shirts we knew he would enjoy. Every week, when we were at treatment, someone would ask us where we got his shirt and comment about what an awesome idea it was. That is how this idea came about. We would love to make this as big as we can so every child who walks into that clinic can have a shirt or two to wear on treatment days. “

The response received from Rauch’s Facebook post helped to kick start the chemo shirt collection. Vache was amazed by the fact that complete strangers would donate shirts and volunteer to sew zippers. “As of today, I believe we have over 200 shirts and have started to distribute them to kids at PCH.”

If you would like to contribute to the effort, contact Katie Vache at 623-261-8997. Donations of children’s shirts in all sizes with fun logos and quotes are appreciated, as well as zippers and people willing to sew the zippers onto the shirts.

For more information, search “Team Sethers” on Facebook.

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