Pat Popovic is a dedicated scrapbooker. She's chronicled each year of her life with her husband, Dave, and often gives scrapbooks as gifts to friends and family. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it seemed natural for her to create a "scrapbook" of a different sort. "I made myself a journal where I could take notes and collect quotes as I was going through treatment," says Pat, who'd retired from a career in education just months before her diagnosis. "Sometimes you read something that speaks to you, or hear a song lyric that touches your or explains how you feel. I like to write those things down."
She dubbed the scrapbook her "Hope Journal," and before long was sharing that hope with others. "When I was going through radiation, I met others in the same boat, and we became friendly," Pat says. She thought her new friends might find journaling helpful, too, so she made Hope Journals for them. "It's nice to know you can do something nice for someone else," she tells us. (Indeed.)
Now, Pat's doing "something nice" for breast cancer patients at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus as well. Her husband recently began receiving care at Mayo Clinic, and during one of their visits, Pat donated some of her hand-made Hope Journals to the Robert and Monica Jacoby Center for Breast Health. They were so well received that Pat decided to make more. A lot more, in fact. She's created "around 80 so far," and mails or hand delivers additional journals each month.
It's an "act of love and kindness" that deeply touches the women who receive the journals, says Susan Kane, a patient navigator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. "When I first meet patients, they have been newly diagnosed and … are overwhelmed by all of the information and decisions they must make," Kane says. "Sometimes the smallest things, such as the kindness of a stranger (demonstrated) through a hand-made journal, touches them in ways words can't express." Kane tells us many patients "tear up" when they receive a journal. "Patients are quite touched that someone they don't even know would take their own time, resources and talent to make something special just for them," she says.
Pat's journals are as unique as the women who receive them. "Every person needs something different," she says. Some journals are simple notebooks with lots of room for patients to write down their feelings. Others are binders that give women a place to add inspiring pages of their own. Pat's hope is that her gifts provide the same sort of comfort that she and her husband have received from others — especially at Mayo Clinic. "There's no place like Mayo Clinic," she tell us. "It's not the buildings. It's the spirit of the place. Mayo takes time and care to make things beautiful and to take care of not only their patients, but their families as well. You can tell they care about the whole spirit." (Which sounds a lot like Pat herself.)
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